Hansard Global published its full-year results to end-June yesterday, showing a modest rise across most aspects of the business. II spoke with the Group's CEO, Gordon Marr and global sales and marketing director, Graham Morrall (pictured), on the company's performance, the challenges ahead, and its plans for next year, including opening in Japan.
II: Given the covid-19 crisis around the world and the immense challenges this has posed, you must be fairly pleased with today's set of results?
Graham Morrall: Yes, we are pleased with the way things went. Across Latin America markets exceeded our expectations [posting a 44% growth YoY]. I think this is largely down to our early adoption of technology and flexible working, long before the covid-19 outbreak. This meant our teams were already up to speed with working from home. The technology aspect means we could be more optimistic than many companies going into this.
We have shown we can manage the difficult climate the world is currently in. And we bucked the trend by being able to pay the dividend this year."
We have also invested in software that enables us to meet clients remotely, and continue to build the business. As a result, we almost doubled our key accounts during the 2Q lockdowns.
We had also built a talented team of Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking people from across the region. The resulting 44% growth in our LatAm markets from all of this is very encouraging.
II: Was this growth across the board or is it largely coming from one or two countries?
Graham Morrall: It's right across the LatAm region, from Mexico to Argentina. The growth in the business there has been relatively even.
II: The Latin America story presumably augers well for Hansard's wider performance?
Gordon Marr: We had a very solid year, and are very happy with the result. Quarter 1 was better than we anticipated, And we've come through very strongly. We have no debt. We've been quick to adopt new technologies and we have a very strong, well-established business around the world.
II: How in particular does the current outlook of cautious optimisim apply when we look at your plans for Japan?
Gordon Marr: We are excited to be launching our first investment product via our Japan branch next year. Obviously the pandemic means we are unable to travel there. We would have been many times this year in more ordinary circumstances. But we continue to talk with our partners there and work to build distribution for the local market. This is obviously more difficult without the possibility of face-to-face communication but that's the way it is for now.
We have Japanese-speaking staff based in Tokyo and are making good progress. Ultimately we're looking to launch our first investment fund product early next year, but there is a chance this will be delayed a bit by covid-19. We'll have to see. If we launch a little later, so be it. We're not in a position to want to rush this, and we are building a strong market for our Japan-based clients.
II: Looking more widely to the horizon, how do you feel about the company's prospects for 2021 and beyond?
Gordon Marr: We had a very solid year, and I am optimistic for what's to come. We have shown we can manage the difficult climate the world is currently in. And we bucked the trend by being able to pay the dividend this year. So we are in a very strong position going forward. Beyong covid-19 I think the biggest threat to business is the wider macro-economic uncertainty with many investors understandably very cautious.
The effect of investor sentiment is a concern if the world remains in this profoundly uncertain phase longer-term. From a company perspective, thouogh, we are going into the next phase of our growth in a very strong position, and I remain confident for the future.