Australian grain-handling co-op CBH Group unveils record profits in its annual report

Net profit after tax was $91.3m, an increase of 83% on the previous year, and revenue rose 6.3% to $3.5bn

A record harvest in 2016 helped Australian grain giant Co-operative Bulk Handling record a AU $247m surplus for the year ending 30 September 2017.

In its annual report, the co-op said 16.6 million tonnes of grain was delivered to its storage and handling facilities, “and was a key driver of the financial results”.

The bulk-handling co-op, which owned by around 4,200 Western Australian grain growers and supplies to more than 30 countries, returned a record rebate of $156.3m, or up to $12.75 a tonne.

Net profit after tax was $91.3m, an increase of 83% on the previous year, and revenue rose 6.3% to $3.5bn.

Chief executive Jimmy Wilson said the surplus was “a good result that was driven by a record harvest and a disciplined approach to cost and capital management”.

He added: “Our co-operative had a strong 2016-17 financial year that culminated in the return of a record rebate to growers.

“Our operations and marketing and trading divisions, as well as our investments, performed well, with each returning a rebate to growers in the face of an international grain environment that continues to provide challenges.”

However, with CBH expecting to receive and handle just more than 13 million tonnes in the current year, 2017-18 surplus and rebates are unlikely to match these results.

The co-op also enjoyed improved profits from its investments. At its Interflour subsidiary, profits will be revinested in growth projects including a US $70m malting facility in Vietnam and a US $30m flour mill in the Philippines.

Mr Wilson, who took over the role of CEO from Andrew Crane in October, told the Australian press the co-op would continue its current strategy, including growing its new fertiliser business, whose figures had improved from a $1.2m loss in 2016 to a $200,000 loss, with sales up from 50,000 tonnes to 65,000 tonnes.

And he said CBH would continue to work as a non-distributing co-op. Members were asked to consider alternative options – moving to a distributing co-operative or a publicly listed company – in 2016 but rejected them.

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