“Motus is stronger than before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. The extraordinary efforts of an agile and empathetic leadership team, together with an integrated business model give cause for confidence in the relevance and longevity of the business, in a world redefined by the pandemic.”
Motus' strong results for the year bear testimony to the action plans developed by the management team in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and their effective implementation since April 2020. More than a plan for short-term survival, the actions taken have matured into a strong foundation for the Group's strategic positioning and growth aspirations.
The COVID-19 pandemic severely impacted our already fragile economy. Financial institutions have supported the vehicle buying customers, despite making significant provisions for doubtful debts. Despite the shrinking economy and disrupted global supply lines, we were fortunate that demand for new and pre-owned vehicles continued and allowed us to deliver strong operating income supported by strong cash flow generation.
The action plans, while helping Motus overcome the worst effects of the pandemic, have also instilled the urgency to adopt strategic measures to secure the Group's future relevance as long-term shifts in behaviour accelerated. The adoption of the multi-franchise dealership model and extraordinary progress made in digitising Motus stand out in this regard. Swift implementation of these strategies has created sustainable competitive advantage in an automotive world that will never fully return to the way things were done prior to 2019.
While the environment was challenging, we learned to find opportunities in this 'new normal'. The Group is now positioned to pursue those opportunities with greater efficiency and clearer focus. Effectively navigating a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic requires strategic agility and expertise of leaders trusted to make far-reaching decisions with limited information and little certainty.
It is gratifying, therefore, that the Group has been able to resume dividend payments. A final dividend of 255 cents per share has been declared, with full year dividends totalling 415 cents per share.
Rebuilding South Africa
The severe impact of the COVID-19 crisis on our country has deepened the inequities and injustices in our society and took it to breaking point with the civil unrest that erupted in July 2021. The Group's immediate response was to ensure the safety of our people, customers, and assets in affected areas. While justice needs to take its course to confirm the Rule of Law in South Africa, we all can and must do more to not only restore what we have lost but to rebuild South Africa for the better. That duty applies to the government and corporates as much as it does to individual citizens.
The determination and agility the Group showed over the past 18 months have become real and sustainable competitive advantages. We are now better placed than ever before to grow shareholder value. Shareholders elect the board to take care of their investments. It is our duty to look after the interests of all Motus' stakeholders irrespective of whether they invest their capital, their talent, their trust, or their hope for a better tomorrow with us.
We must rebuild a better Motus and South Africa for its citizens.
Transforming our communities and company
Our nation is as strong as the communities that are its fabric. Whether through driving education in schools or by supporting the development of health clinics in lower-income communities or the informal workshops that keep many of South Africa's vehicles on the road, our efforts aim to empower individuals and expand the socio-economic opportunities that restore human dignity. You can read more about our contribution to communities and small businesses in our ESG impact section and in our ESG report online.
We recognise that we are part of the community ecosystem wherever we operate. Our wellbeing is not separate from the people in the communities, who host our operations and resource our aspirations – we are because they are.
Headline earnings per share
per share (2020: 296 cents per share)
Full year dividend
share (paid interim dividend of
160 cents per share)
We know, too, that in South Africa, rebuilding begins within our closest circle of influence; the transformation of race and gender representation within our company, supported by an inclusive culture. The board and management identified transformation as a priority several years ago, which is taken very seriously throughout the organisation. We set high targets for transformation, measure progress, and link incentive payments to their achievement. Read more about our transformation plans and progress in our people section.
The Group has also supported the YES Programme, a corporate initiative in South Africa to provide work experience opportunities to unemployed youth in roles specifically created for over 400 programme participants across the Group. In addition to positively contributing to this much needed societal imperative, the programme provides the opportunity to expand the talent pool not only for the Group, but also for the industry. Motus trains over 1 800 artisans to be employed in the motor industry in our country. Motus has also strengthened its Talent for Growth Framework to give momentum to reskilling the workforce and ensuring that we have the right skills available in the right place and at the right time. More detail can be found in our people section.
Motus has developed and refined a detailed executive and management succession plan that aims to ensure we have the expertise to secure our future and have a transformed management team.
"The determination and agility the Group showed over the past 18 months have become real and sustainable competitive advantages. We are now better placed than ever before to grow shareholder value.”
Governance is our core value
Strengthening governance at every level of society is a keystone in rebuilding a better South Africa. Every organisation domiciled in this country has a duty to itself, its people, and society, to ensure that its governance practices reinforce the Rule of Law and the Bill of Rights enshrined in our Constitution. For ethical, responsible companies like Motus, this requires well-functioning boards and committees dedicated to applying codes consistently and effectively. Commitment to strong governance and accountability is part of our character.
This document is also a report on enterprise value and indeed on the values of the company. It reflects the board's role in ensuring good governance in every aspect of our business. In this regard, the role and responsibilities of the board and its committees in guiding and reporting on key indicators demonstrates our commitment to the highest standards of governance: our corporate governance report, discusses how Motus' board guides and holds itself and our people accountable to this commitment.
We commissioned an experienced external and independent consultant to conduct an evaluation of board effectiveness during the year. Key findings confirmed the board to be well-functioning, and of appropriate size and diversity, especially in terms of race and gender. Directors believe that Motus' values and ethics permeate throughout the organisation, led by the board's example. The board confronts difficult issues robustly and there are appropriate systems in place to ensure compliance with all legal and regulatory requirements, notwithstanding the rate at which they change. ESG was identified as an important area of future focus and will feature more prominently on the SES committee's agenda.
During the year, we welcomed three new board members, Ms. NB Duker, Ms. F Roji-Maplanka and Mr. PJS Crouse. The leadership section details the relevance of their skills and experience to our business and strategy. Before year-end, we said farewell to Ms. KR Moloko, who resigned from the board. We thank her for her time and contribution to the Motus board and wish her well in her future endeavours.
More robust and specific government policies are needed to support the South African economy which has been scarred by the pandemic. The overhang of debt and structural inefficiencies constrain the government's ability to invest to the extent the economy requires. South Africa would do well to implement policies that unleash the capabilities and resources of the private sector to drive socio-economic recovery.
Agility and determination will increasingly determine business success. Motus today, as it has over our long entrepreneurial history, excels in both. We would welcome improved economic prospects. Government alone does not have the power or the purse to rebuild a better South Africa. This will be the product of a groundswell of commitment and initiatives from individuals, government, communities, and companies like Motus.
I am indebted to my fellow board members for their extraordinary stewardship and guidance, and the performance of our highly competent executive team led by Osman Arbee. Above all, I am grateful for the unwavering spirit and dedicated efforts of every member of the Motus family. Their commitment to the company and stakeholders has secured our future and ability to contribute to rebuilding a better South Africa.
20 September 2021