The University Press Plc on Wednesday held its 37th Annual General Meeting in Ibadan, where the chairman of the company, Dr. Lekan Are, declared that shareholders of the publishing firm would be paid N86.3m as dividend.
Are, who is also the chairman of KICC, said during AGM that the company endured a harsh business environment in the year ended March 31, 2015, which reduced its revenue by 29 per cent.
Apart from the impact of the Ebola Virus Disease on the publishing industry, Are also lamented the activities of pirates, expressing his displeasure over the failure of relevant government agencies to stop their operation.
He said, “The publishing industry was hit by the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in July 2014. This affected the 2014/2015 academic calendar as government delayed resumption of schools till late September and early October in 2014. The lost revenue was not fully recouped as the selling season was shortened.
“The industry continued to battle with piracy, a major threat to book business in Nigeria. This battle can only be won with the support of government and the public, especially the people that patronise the pirated books. The revenue of the company reduced from N2.438bn to N1.728bn. About 95 per cent of this loss of revenue was caused by the sharp drop in the sales to governments and their agencies.”
The chairman, however, said that despite the odds, University Press was conscious of the priority to deliver maximum returns on shareholders’ investment.
He said, “This was considered in spite of the declined earnings in the year ending. The board is pleased to declare a dividend of N20k per ordinary share. This translates to a total payout of N86.3m.”
On the future of the company, Are said that with the strategy that the company had put in place after due consideration of its expectations of market scenario in the coming year, it would be able to deliver better results.
The shareholders commended the board for the way business was handled in the “difficult” year, while also suggesting ways by which the company could improve on its earnings.
Responding to some of the issues raised by the shareholders, Are said that the company would pay bonus for the first time since 2010 when business improved, revealing also that some of its outlets in Maiduguri and other parts of the north were closed because of the activities of insurgents in the area.
“We care for the safety of our staff in every parts of the country. However, we will still try to reach the grassroots and improve on our sales,” he said.
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Source : Punch