FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE FY2021
I would like to present to you the annual report for Heeton Holdings Limited for the financial year ended 31 December 2021 (“FY2021″).
The COVID-19 global pandemic which started in 2020 continued right through the whole of 2021, prolonging its impact across all countries including Asia and the United Kingdom (“UK”), where Heeton’s real estates are located. The spread of different strains of the virus, restrictions on overseas travel and domestic movements as well as uncertain business sentiments continued to weigh down on the hospitality sector, commercial ventures and returns on property investments.
Despite the challenging circumstances, however, the Group saw a positive year-on-year turnaround in financial performance, recording a net profit before tax of $29.1 million in FY2021 compared to a net loss before tax of $26.2 million in FY2020. As a result, I am pleased to announce that we will be declaring a dividend of 0.375 cents per share for FY2021.
HOSPITALITY INVESTMENT AND DEVELOPMENT
In another bleak year for global tourism, the British Tourist Authority (“BTA”) reported a 31% decline in tourist arrivals in 2021 compared to 2020. The silver lining was robust aggregate spending by inbound tourists of £6.9 billion, which represented a growth of 11% from 2020, driven largely by a much higher average length of stay.
Outside of the UK, Heeton owns hotels in Thailand and Japan. Thailand had an estimated 427,800 international tourists in 2021, a precipitous decline from 2020’s 6.7 million arrivals, owing to strict enforcement of border controls. The situation was similar in Japan, which saw its lowest ever tourist arrivals of 245,900 in 2021.
These challenges notwithstanding, the Group’s hospitality division surpassed performance expectations, contributing close to 60% of total revenue in FY2021. Looking ahead to 2022, we are cautiously optimistic about further business recovery. While COVID-19 has not been eradicated, it is gradually moving towards endemic status. As more people get vaccinated and countries become more resourceful in managing the health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic, leisure and business travel will return to former heights.
According to UK tourism reports compiled by Statista in February 2022, inbound visits to the UK are expected to rise from 7.1 million in 2021 to 21 million in 2022 with a relaxation of travel restrictions and a gradual return of travellers’ confidence, while the International Air Transport Association has predicted travel rebound in Asia in 2022 from pent-up demand, negotiated arrangements between countries, and nations learning to better manage new variants of the COVID-19 virus.
Beyond the UK, Thailand and Japan, our hotel developments in Gaobeidian, Hebei and Bhutan continue to progress. While both countries are still in the throes of the pandemic, in the next one to two years, we should see increasing vaccination rates and natural immunity becoming effective shields against current and future strains of the virus, and ultimately the flourishing return of leisure and business visitors from abroad.
NEW CHALLENGES AHEAD
The pandemic triggered a seismic societal shift towards digitalisation, virtualisation as well as elevated safety and hygiene standards. Many innovative business practices have helped us improve our operational efficiency and will continue to do so when the global economy recovers from the pandemic. Furthermore, new ways of engaging customers – such as virtual showrooms and contactless hotel check-in – can unlock more business opportunities.
The pandemic has forced companies round the world to review the inherent strengths and long-term viability of their various businesses. Although Heeton will remain focused on our core business of real estate investment, we will be cautiously exploring opportunities in other business sectors, and looking to develop new core competencies.
In March 2022, the Group moved its Headquarters from its former home in the northern suburbs to the downtown hotspot of Paya Lebar, marking the start of a new corporate chapter.
On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to express our heartfelt appreciation to Mr Toh Khai Cheng, who retired as a Director and Chairman of the Board on 31 December 2021. Mr Toh is the company’s Founder and has been Director of Heeton Holdings since 1976, dedicating more than four decades of hard work to growing Heeton to its current status as an international property development and investment player.
I would also like to thank our directors for their advice and support during a very difficult year, in particular Mr Chia Kwok Ping and Mr Tan Tiong Cheng who have been on the Heeton Board for many years, and will now be retiring in accordance with SGX’s policy guidelines for independent directors who have been on the board for more than 9 years. We wish them every success in their future endeavours.
Finally, I would like to express my appreciation to our business partners for their loyalty and commitment, our shareholders for supporting the Group amidst unprecedented and difficult market conditions, and our staff for their effort and dedication in helping the company become more resilient this past year, to better position us for the challenges in the year ahead.
TOH GIAP ENG