On behalf of our Executive team at Astrapak, we wish you a Happy New Year filled with prosperity, joy and contentment. I trust that you are all well rested after the holiday break and that you have returned feeling refreshed and ready to take on the challenges of 2016.
Our strategy in the first two years was to reorganise and restructure the Group and a lot of the hard yards are now behind us. We now look ahead and place our primary focus on profit improvement. A positive for the Group is that we invested heavily in good equipment over the past two years and these investments are either commissioned or will be in time for the financial year-end February 2017 (FY2017) to deliver on this year’s budgets.
Another advantage of the investments and changes we have made is that we now have operations of scale with good equipment, which are focused on specific core markets and customers. These improvements are also expected to help Astrapak move to a new level into the years ahead and while some of our recent projects are carried over from last year, Astrapak strives to reach and maintain international benchmarks that we have set across various functions.
Although the current economy is challenging, our sales in November and December held up reasonably well – hopefully we will see this trend extend into the new year, which will build a platform for us to deliver our budgets and more! This year is very much about delivering results and to achieve this, we will have to focus on cost control, efficiency and delivery at every turn. Meeting deadlines, budgets and targets is not negotiable.
Part of the key focus areas include:
- OTIFQ and adherence to plan
- New project delivery – sales and capex
- Price recovery
- Planned maintenance and plant efficiency
- Payroll and maintenance costs
- Waste and stock variances
- General costs – consultants and travel
- Working capital control
While the items I have referred to above are critical, they are largely internal drivers of which we cannot lose sight. However looking outwardly we can never forget that we are here because of our customers. They keep our machines rolling and our products on shelves. Satisfying them and exceeding their expectations is no less of a goal than our internal business targets calls for and support.
The success of this business is under no circumstances the sole responsibility of the Executive Team or me. We operate as a collective team at Astrapak and overcoming challenges and seeing success can only be achieved by all working together. I encourage you to use the channels in place to offer ideas and suggestions for improvements in our business. The sooner we look at ideas and make the changes, the sooner in FY2017 we can implement and benefit from them. I urge you all to remain focused and driven, involved in making plans work.
Sharing ideas and highlighting areas for improvements is all about communicating with one another. Communication should be concise and clear. Make your communication factual and without emotion.
Speaking of communication, I wish to remind you all of our commitment and obligation to respect one another in every possible way. It is for this reason that we have various policies and procedures, which guide and govern our business and behaviour. We at Astrapak reiterate our firm stance on electronic communication and have clearly outlined the Group’s position on this in our Code of Conduct and Business Ethics Policy as well as our Electronic Communications Policy, both of which are available on the Intranet.
We have embarked upon a process to extend our policies and procedures in a uniform and consistent manner across our Group of companies. For this purpose the services of Mark Hobbs have been retained to start the process of high-level process mapping, which involves changing the culture of the business in moving from a functional organisation to a process driven organisation. We will be introducing a focused communication stream highlighting the critical changes to our approach in the coming months.
We have seen a recent spate of abuse of “freedom of speech” on all sorts of social media platforms and I call upon everyone to carefully consider the consequences of your actions, whether on social media or on electronic mail. Be warned that we will not tolerate any deviation from our code of conduct and our values of Respect and Integrity.
From my perspective looking forward at FY2017, we have done the hard work and got ourselves into a position where the Group is fundamentally sound and well positioned. We now have a real opportunity to cement our position in our chosen markets and with key customers over the next 12 months – and that is our goal!