Chairperson’s statement

Sven Thieme

To our shareholders, employees and other interested stakeholders

While the recessionary years preceding 2020 were challenging, they were mostly stable. Exchange rates remained constant, interest rates were favourable and inflation rates were low. By the end of 2019:

  • we had returned to positive beer volumes in Namibia for the first time in two years;
  • embarked on a digital transformation journey;
  • saw real benefits from our partnership with Heineken SA; and
  • good rainfall had broken the drought, albeit temporarily.

The second half of the financial year presented not only the business but our country and the entire global village with what can be described as “the worst recessionary period since the Great Depression”. The outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has had and continues to have a devastating socio-economic impact. In Namibia, we are also facing another ‘pandemic’: corruption in both the public and private sectors. We are yet to face the full impact of this twin pandemic situation on our country as it battles to survive economically and socially. With the lack of leadership, the current levels of unemployment, poverty and hunger remain a bitter pill to swallow though we believe it can be addressed, if those in power pull together for the good of all.

Inspired by the O&L Group purpose, “Creating a Future, Enhancing Life” and vision of “being a catalyst for positive change, creating new realities and fulfilling dreams”, we are committed to ethical behaviour in business and stakeholder relations by setting high standards that enable us to endure. We appreciate our employees, customers and consumers, partners, suppliers and stakeholders who honour our values and ideals of taking bold stands; causing alignment; being authentic and inspiring innovation – thereby delivering extraordinary results.

That said, NBL’s revenues and volumes declined by 14.6% and 16.6% respectively, due to lockdown conditions and curtailed trading early in 2020. The prohibition of alcohol sales as a measure to lessen the impact of COVID-19, highlighted the sensitive nature of our business.

As a Group, we have taken a strong stance to increase our role in promoting responsible behaviour, and extending this beyond the drinking occasion, rallying consumers around responsible behaviour whether shopping, socialising, entertaining or simply just enjoying their favourite beverage.

Purposeful leadership

Being “purposeful” is a key pillar in our 2025 Breakthrough Strategy (read more on page 28) which requires us to be the best versions of ourselves in order to unlock the full potential of everyone. In pursuit of our Vision 2025 of “being a catalyst for positive change, creating new realities and fulfilling dreams”, we have rallied our employees around our purpose and vision to co-create our desired future together. We are looking over the horizon with imagination, innovation, transformation and breakthroughs second to none as we are confident this will enable us to accelerate a sustainable economy so that all Namibians enjoy prosperity. With leadership setting the tone, we have experienced our employees’ belief in the freshly expanded vision to be synchronised fully embracing individual and collective ownership of our Breakthrough Strategy. Employees collectively own, not only their own future, but also the future of the Company, the O&L Group and ultimately, the future of our country and her people. The result is a marked increase of inspired employees with positive energy, innovation and productivity delivering breakthrough results which we believe will aid us going forward as we activate the ‘Genius’ of our people – no matter how difficult things might seem.

Leading responsible drinking

In responding to the consumer trend towards low and non-alcoholic products, NBL developed and launched Windhoek Non-Alcoholic beer with less than 0.5% alcohol in September last year, reaffirming our commitment to continuous innovation. This is complementary to our long-standing leadership in promoting responsible drinking in Namibia. We remain committed to producing quality alcoholic beverages as part of one of the oldest industries in the world and engaging our consumers with experiences whereby they can enjoy life responsibly.

Building trust in a digital world

Despite all the challenges and changes in how we work and interact that COVID-19 brought along, we cannot ignore the opportunities it presents. We are creating new realities and embracing new possibilities; unleashing the unlimited potential in everyone; delivering beyond expectations; everyone having fun and bringing out the best versions of themselves in a culture of continuous innovation where anything is possible in order to sustain the future – all opportunities to continue unlocking, going forward. As a matter of fact, this culture is fast becoming our new norm in how we lead both our people and our business, as business as usual is simply not relevant anymore. As purposeful and breakthrough leaders – deeply connected to our purpose “Creating a Future, Enhancing Life” – we are passionately committed to keeping the O&L dream alive by embracing a positive vision of how we will succeed as a business, as communities and as people. We, want to enable and move not only NBL and O&L but our country at large forward, towards a prosperous future for all of us!

The year 2020 marks a significant moment in the history of NBL as we celebrate our first century as a proudly Namibian brewer. From humble beginnings when everyone saw four distressed breweries, we saw potential. As one of a few large-scale independent breweries in Africa, NBL remains committed to the Reinheitsgebot (“Purity Law”) of 1516, providing consumers with a guarantee of quality and the use of three natural ingredients: malted barley, hops and water. Looking back at monumental moments, brave decisions and dreams which at the time might have seemed impossible, we are proud to have stood the test of time, achieving many milestones and great successes. The last year also humbled us as we experienced a myriad of economic and social challenges. However, as proven over the past 100 years, we once again endured.

It cannot be denied that the current reality has also come at a time of growing distrust in public institutions and business alike. We recognise the value of transparent communication and relevant information for all our stakeholders through new channels and platforms they can trust. As we are building these capabilities and relationships, we are likely to see shifts in physical infrastructure. Fewer people might work in offices, and tools might change, including how we run a brewery which speaks to our strategic focus area: Owning the future, creating new realities, enjoying the journey.

Climate change will increasingly shape our world

We are facing the biggest environmental challenge our species has ever seen. The signs of climate change are everywhere and it is vital that each and every global citizen takes ownership of caring for our planet: if we do not care about the small things, we will not care about the big things. I appreciate the leadership NBL has taken in caring for the planet, be it through its biomass boiler, or through various clean-up campaigns and recycling efforts. As a Group, we accept and embrace our responsibility to play a bigger role in educating and encouraging environmentally responsible behaviour. Namibia has significant potential in a number of environmentally friendly facets such as clean energy; it only requires purposeful leadership, vision and investment. This is also why we have committed to align our sustainability programme with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) because no matter what we are passionate about, something we care about will be affected by climate change.

Finding opportunity amid changed conditions

NBL has endured difficult financial periods in the past 100 years. Bold and purposeful leadership is what ensured that we endure: we needed scale to be competitive under difficult, and sometimes unfair, trading conditions; we secured market share, by acquiring hotels and establishing partnerships; and continued to innovate in order to create opportunity.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted and transformed the world. Like other global beverage alcohol markets and companies, NBL has also been subject to massive volatility since the end of March 2020. While our bottom line performance has undeniably been significantly impacted, we are also clear that we had to take a collective responsibility to support the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure the health and wellbeing of our employees, customers, consumers, stakeholders, communities and country at large. COVID-19 has forced us to rethink and execute in a completely new and different way. As we have seen in the past few months, it is possible to cut costs more than we thought possible resulting in time efficiency and productivity, and having a clear focus on the right things – an important base for the future. While circumstances and strategies may change, our commitment to quality remains as firm as always.

Our employees are our future

We care for our people! We have committed to significantly invest in discovering the ‘Genius’ in every employee who serves our Company, their community and country. This is the root of strong performance and establishes the balance between creating amazing employee experiences while ensuring business sustainability. We are uncovering and removing barriers, nurturing emotional intelligence and advancing cognitive knowledge. This means that we are also changing the way we measure and remunerate people. The world of work post COVID-19 will never be the same again: it is resetting and restarting things in a new way, bringing opportunities and excitement for everyone who is part of the Group.

“If we take the future into our hands, we can create the future we want.”

Sven Thieme,
NBL Chairperson

Creating a Future, Enhancing Life

We are passionate about our country and relentless in pursuit of our purpose: “Creating a Future, Enhancing Life”. Cognisant of the fact that we face a challenging time ahead, post COVID-19, we are also excited about the opportunities that come along with any crisis. NBL is committed to continue staying on top of its game in quality supply, both locally and in export markets. We are proud to keep the name of Namibia high on the lips of those that enjoy our world-class products and remain committed to ensure continued compliance to the more than 500-year-old Reinheitsgebot to brew and deliver quality products on a consistent basis, which NBL has become known and awarded for globally. Reflecting on the past 100 years, we are confident that together with the support of our employees, consumers, customers and stakeholders, we will make our country great again!

2020 dividend

The Board declared a final dividend of 53 cents per ordinary share to bring the total dividend for 2020 to 106 cents, and no special dividend was declared (2019: 100 cents total dividend, in addition to a special dividend of 121.05 cents). Payment will be made to shareholders of ordinary shares registered in the books of the Company at close of business on 9 October 2020 and will be paid on 13 November 2020.

Sven Thieme