Oceana BBBEE trail pays off

JSE listed Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) fishing operation Oceana Group says its healthy industrial and community relations has held it in good stead and ensured that that it went through 2012 without a single strike.

Oceana, which boasts popular fishing brands like Lucky Star, took the BBBEE tag back in 1994 and seems to have sustained it to this day when many other BBBEE initiatives have disintegrated while others have been proved to be a sham.

Oceana’s CEO Francois Kuttel attributes the zero strikes by more than three-thousand employees during 2012 to Oceana’s good industrial relations. “Our people and their performance are important to us, which we have proven by providing them with wellness programmes; securing their health and safety and ensuring zero fatalities on land during the year and zero fatalities for more than a decade at sea; as well as training 1 720 employees across all levels during the year, 90% of whom were black and 39% female.”

The group said tens of thousands of stakeholders will share the benefit derived from the strong set of results released by the Oceana Group for the 2012 financial year, in line with the group’s commitment to creating shared value.

Oceana’s 2012 financial results showed the group’s operating profit before abnormal items increased by 39% during the 2012 financial year due to improved performance by each of its business segments compared to the previous year.

Kuttel, said that the group’s commitment to its stakeholders is captured in its corporate values, which are focused on six pillars, namely, people, communities, environment, reputation, partners and performance.

Coastal communities in which the group operates received R5,2-million in corporate social investment (CSI) via the Oceana Foundation during 2012, impacting some 179 000 people.  Kuttel says, when combining this with the CSI initiatives of Oceana’s two biggest shareholders who profit from the group’s success, the amount increases to R31,9-million.

Oceana’s BBBEE equity partners include prominent empowerment player Brimstone which assumed participation in the 1990’s and saw Brimstone founding executive Mustaq Brey plugged into Oceana’s board. He now serves as chairman. The group followed up with an employee empowerment scheme in 2006.

“Oceana regards itself as an integral part of the communities in which it operates. We acknowledge complaints about the odour that results from processing fish at our fishmeal plants,” says Kuttel. However, as part of our focus on continuous improvement, we have invested R72-million over ten years to improve the technology and infrastructure at these facilities. The high operating standards that we adopt at our fishmeal plants, as with every other part of our business, was validated by it becoming the first fishmeal plants in Africa to receive certification for responsible sourcing and supply from the International Fishmeal and Fish Oil Organisation.”

Oceana’s list of credentials that demonstrate its sustainable business practices, which are aimed at responsibly managing marine resources and the environment, include, inter alia, all its commercial fishing rights being on the SASSI green list, being a founding member of the Responsible Fisheries Alliance, publishing its carbon footprint report, being a signatory and embracing the ten principles of the United Nations Global Compact and the hake trawl fishery being certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.

According to Kuttel, Oceana’s customers and suppliers are its partners. He says the group has a focused approach on promoting preferential procurement and enterprise development. “Oceana spent R1,1-billion on broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE), representing 70% of its total spend, in 2012. This represents a 54% increase in spend with black owned suppliers and a 77% increase in spend with black women owned suppliers, compared to 2011. Oceana’s total spend on enterprise development initiatives amounted to R32-million.”

Kuttel said Oceana’s profit growth and its selection as the 18th Top Performing Company and 4th Most Empowered Company in South Africa by the Financial Mail served as recognition that the group was meeting the expectations of its shareholders. “Oceana is an independently verified black owned and black controlled company. Its third largest shareholder is the Oceana Empowerment Trust, which holds 11,8% shares with a market value of more than R700-million in trust for more than 2 000 of the group’s current and former black employees.”

In terms of the year ahead, Kuttel outlined the following five-point strategy:

•             Ensure the long-term sustainability of the group’s operations in accordance with the expectations of customers and investors;

•             Harvesting marine resource allocations responsibly and efficiently in full compliance with legislation – being an industry leading steward;

•             Maintain the performance of company management and staff;

•             Maintain an independently accredited B-BBEE level 2 rating; and

•             Protect and enhance the reputation of the group.

A new corporate brand strategy aimed at unifying the companies that exist within the group and leveraging off the value of the Oceana brand and iconic Lucky Star brand was unveiled. The strategy translates into a slightly revised Oceana Group logo and new branding for the group’s subsidiary companies. The Oceana Group companies include Oceana Brands that will start trading as Lucky Star, Blue Continent Products, Oceana Lobster, Calamari Fishing, Lamberts Bay Foods, and Commercial Cold Storage that will start trading as CCS Logistics in South Africa.

“Oceana is the leading empowered fishing company in South Africa with an overall performance that demonstrates that we are the best converter of fishing rights to shared value in South Africa,” Kuttel said. “By working together, Oceana and its various stakeholders will be able to combine their strengths, overcome their weaknesses, celebrate their diversity, explore new direction and discover new ways to ensure a sustainable and successful future.”

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