Hills sees first profit after years in the red

Hills sees first profit after years in the red

Specialist distributor posted losses after tax for three consecutive years

David Lenz (Hills)

David Lenz (Hills)

Credit: Hills

Specialist distributor Hills Limited has closed the 2018 financial year with net profit after tax (NPAT) of $400,000, a turnaround compared to the previous year's $7.9 million loss.

This is the first time the publicly-listed company has reported a profit since 2014 when NPAT was $24.7 million.

In 2015, Hills closed the year at an $85.9 million loss while 12 months later, the business was still at a $68.3 million loss, improving considerably in 2017, when net loss was $7.9 million.

Hills started to see results improvements after the appointment of David Lenz as the company's CEO in August 2016 - he was previously the distributor's chief operations officer and head of Hill's building technologies division.

"In recent years the company instigated a strategy to redefine and restructure the business and I am pleased for our shareholders, customers, vendors and employees that Hills has returned to profitability," Lenz told shareholders on 27 August.

"In FY18 Hills set about delivering on a number of key initiatives outlined in detail at our AGM [annual general meeting], and it was pleasing to see the business deliver against these objectives during the year, in particular the e-Commerce platform and the establishment of a National Distribution Centre and Trade Centre at Seven Hills in New South Wales.

"Hills will continue to deliver the best possible customer experience and we remain focused on implementing key business improvements in FY19."

Hills revenue was down by $26.3 million, posting total revenue for the year ended 30 June of $271.8 million.

The company attributed the decline in revenue to the decision to exit NBN satellite installations, as well as lower antenna sales in the competitive Pay TV market in Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ).

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) was $9.4 million, a $3 million increase from the previous year.

"Due to the efforts of our dedicated people, we delivered growth in our two largest businesses, Hills Health Solutions and Security, Surveillance and Communications (SSIT), with the Nurse Call business growing revenue by 26 per cent, our enterprise-focused security business growing revenue by 14 per cent and our IT businesses growing revenue by 20 per cent being the standout performers in the Group," Lenz told shareholders.

In May, Hills secured the contract to supply a nurse call solution for the Westmead Central Acute Service building in NSW.

The Westmead Central Acute Service building is part of the over $900 million redevelopment project of the Westmead precinct.

Specifically, the new hospital building will integrate a number of adult and paediatric services including pharmacy and imaging, state-of-the art operating theatres and a new emergency department for adult and paediatric patients.

As part of the business action to reduce layers of management, Hills has reduced its headcount by 131 staff in the past two years, going from a total number of full-time employees of 665 in 2016 down to 534 in 2018.

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