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URC sees turnaround this year

/ 05:04 PM May 30, 2018

Lance Gokongwei at the May 30 stockholders meeting of URC

After a two-year business downturn, regional industrial powerhouse Universal Robina Corp. expects to start turning the corner this year as the group seeks to stabilize the domestic coffee business amid cutthroat competition while improving overseas operations.

“We plan to bring the business back on track by growing topline (at) high single-digit and operating income growing slightly faster than sales for the year,” URC chair Lance Gokongwei said during the company’s stockholders meeting on Wednesday.

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During the last two calendar years, URC grappled with a changing macro-economic environment, increasing competitive pressures and some internal issues. From years of muted inflation and strong peso, URC has seen creeping inflation and depreciating currency gnawing on margins.

The recall of products in Vietnam as regulators called out lead content also dragged down the international business.

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This year, however, prospects are brighter despite continuing pressure from rising inflation, foreign currency weakness, higher taxes on sugared beverages, volatility in commodity prices and the highly-competitive local coffee market.

“We still expect sales growth especially in the second half relative to first half. Hopefully, we’re pivoting for growth in the coming years,” Gokongwei told reporters after the company’s stockholders meeting on Wednesday.

This year, URC has earmarked around P8 billion to grow various businesses.

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TAGS: Irwin Lee, Lance Gokongwei, Universal Robina Corp. (URC), URC
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