One of Western Australia’s oldest listed companies, Schaffer Corporation, held its 50th annual general meeting today, celebrating an unbroken run of providing dividends to shareholders.
Schaffer began as Calsil, a brick manufacturer founded by entrepreneurial migrant George Schaffer in 1955.
The business changed its name in 1998 when current chairman John Schaffer took over after his father passed away.
Today, Schaffer is a diversified industrial company that made an underlying profit of $20 million last financial year through its building materials, automotive leather and property divisions.
Speaking at its AGM this morning in Como, Mr Schaffer said the company expected to record a significant increase in revenue and underlying profit for the first half of this financial year.
Mr Schaffer said this would be due to a significant increase in its automotive leather division, making up for a decrease in its building materials division and a slight decrease in its property division.
He said Schaffer expected to pay a fully franked interim dividend of at least 12 cents a share, a 9 per cent increase on the dividend for the same period last year.
Mr Schaffer declined to make a profit guidance for the full year, saying economic conditions globally were too uncertain.
“Your board expects another challenging year due to the combination of global and local economic conditions,” Mr Schaffer said.
“We have confidence that we have considered and installed the switches our businesses need to strategically position them to respond. That combined with our diversification and conservative capital management puts Schaffer Corporation in excellent condition to tackle the challenges, and importantly, embrace the opportunities presented.”
During the AGM, director David Schwartz was re-elected and the company’s remuneration report was accepted by a clear majority of shareholders, 80 of whom were in attendance.
Many of the shareholders at the AGM have been investors since the company started, including Brian Tennant, who was singled out by Mr Schaffer as an old friend of his father’s.
“It was just so long ago that I was young,” Mr Tennant said, unable to recall when he became a shareholder.
Following the AGM Mr Schaffer and his sister, former Liberal Party state president Danielle Blain, who remains a director after serving in various high-level executive positions with the company in the past, said their father would have been pleased with the business today.
“Often what happens, the first generation, the founder builds something up and not necessarily does the second generation carry that on,” Mrs Blain said.
“In this case, the second generation in the form of my brother absolutely took it to a point that if dad was around I think he’d be delighted to think that from little humble beginnings we’re where we are 50 years later.”
Mr Schaffer said a core focus of the business, which has 800 employees in Slovakia and Shanghai and 200 employees in WA, was controlling costs and being conservative with capital management.
He said the Australian dollar’s value impacted significantly on the business and that if it continued to fall, Schaffer could increase its export revenue.
Schaffer manages five entities through its building materials division: paving supplier Urban Stone; limestone block suppliers Archistone, Lumeah, and Limestone Resources; and precast concrete manufacturer Delta, which is involved in the construction of the Perth City Link project.
Schaffer owns 83 per cent of Howe Automotive, a supplier to the automotive industry .
Its property division, run as a syndicate, has about a 20 per cent share in three properties in WA – the IBM Centre on Hay Street in West Perth, the Parks shopping centre in Bunbury, and the Hometown shopping centre in Cannington.