Passion for food brings Fedics to the JSE's table
ALTHOUGH the Fedics Group is already 25 years old, tomorrow's listing of the hospitality and catering company represents its coming of age, says managing director David Wigley.
Fedics will join the listings boom on the JSE when it makes its debut on the beverages, hotels and leisure sector.
Wigley believes this marks an important milestone for the company. "Over the past 25 years we have built a well-balanced group with interests in catering and hospitality. As a result there has always been a considerable interest in a possible Fedics listing.The listing will give us a better public profile and allow us, when the time is right, to look at acquisitions in the future."
Among its subsidiaries are Fedics Food Services and Inflight Services, while Fedics also owns 40% of Protea Hotels.
Wigley says the listing follows Servgro's decision to unbundle and the R120-million acquisition of a 33.3% interest in the group by a black empowerment consortium comprising women's investment group Nozala Investments, Investments Progress Group and Western Cape-based Siphumelele Investments. The acquisition meant that control and management of the group is now shared jointly between the new consortium and the two existing shareholders, ICS and Servgro. In terms of the pre-listing prospectus, Servgro will distribute its shares in Fedics, about 33.1% or 29.8-million shares, to its shareholders who will receive approximately 24 Fedics Group shares for every 100 Servgro shares.
Following the listing, the Fedics Group will be under the joint control of the consortium and ICS (each holding 33.3%), and Sankorp with a 21% interest.
Pro forma figures forecast a turnover increase to R823-million in the year to March 1988 from R735.5-million. Headline earnings are expected to increase marginally to 35.7 from 31.3c a share.
Wigley says growth opportunities will come both from the domestic and southern African market. "There are still vast growth opportunities within SA. For instance, the government is contracting out less than 30% of its catering needs to the private sector.
"Secondly as tourism and travelling pick up in the region, it will open up enormous opportunities and I believe Fedics is uniquely placed to offer its services and products to other African countries."
Wigley says he has been interested in catering since his teenage years. "I have always enjoyed good food. My love for good food endured even at university - where the student and university food are not the best of friends - and I was a student representative on catering."
After university he joined Trust Houses, a hotel company in England, as a trainee and worked his way up from the kitchen, "familiarising myself with the practical side of the business", to district manager.
In 1972 he set up a company with a colleague in England comprising two subsidiaries; Happy Eater Family Restaurants and All Weather Sports Leisure. But he was lured back into the hotel industry by Southern Sun and moved to SA in April 1977. In 1980 he left the hotel group to join Fedics as managing director and was appointed group MD in August 1986.
He cites the 1995 award by the Black Management Forum to Fedics as the most progressive company on affirmative action and the successful attraction of the black consortium by the Fedics Group as providing a sense of personal fulfilment.
Wigley is past chairman of the Hospitality Industry Training Board and past president of the Caterers' Association of Southern Africa and of Fedhasa. He is currently chairman of the Tourism Business Council of SA, fuelled by his passion to develop tourism in the country, and an honorary professor in the department of tourism at the University of Pretoria.