Trust weathers storm

Great result...Mataura Licensing Trust general manager Mark Paterson is very pleased with the trust’s strong financial position presented in its annual report given the difficult trading conditions of 2020. PHOTO:SANDY EGGLESTON

The Mataura Licensing Trust has ridden the high seas of 2020’s Covid-19 storm and emerged ship-shape.

The trust’s annual report released last week shows total sales of $25,196,779, down $362,411 on the previous year.

However, the net profit pre-tax and donations was $1,048,325 about three times more than in 2019-20 when the figure was $300,094.

The trust’s net surplus was $750,546, up from $544,941 the year before.

General manager Mark Paterson said the board had taken a cautious approach to keep the operation going and it had paid off.

“What we wanted to do in Covid last year with all the uncertainty, was preserve the trust so we could live to fight another day,” Mr Paterson said.

“We have done that and done that well.

“We’re not in any jeopardy at all of going under or being compromised.”

Suspending all non-essential maintenance and repairs resulted in a saving of $858,000.

“We just shut up shop and rode it out.”

Apart from seven of the 11 bottle stores which were open due to being designated an essential service, the trust’s accommodation and hospitality venues were shut down for more than a month.

While the income from accommodation was down 27%, bar turnover down 15% and food down 9%, bottle store sales were up 5%.

“The  full Government Covid-19 wage subsidy of $780,000, which the trust qualified for, off-set the wage cost and kept all employees fully paid and employed,” Mr Paterson said.

The amount the trust gave away in grants was down from $451,000 in 2019-20 to $252,000.

This was due to many events being cancelled, he said.

Donations were also down, from $85,298 in 2019-20 to $46,259.

The 2021-22 year had started off positively prior to the latest lockdown, he said.

At the end of the first quarter (June 30), the trust was showing a pre-tax profit of $113,000.

As a precaution against a further lockdowns and because of Covid-19, the board decided to invest $500,000 in a relatively conservative “rainy day” fund.

Trust president Horace McAuley said the result was very pleasing in what had been a difficult year.

“I think it is testament to the support we continue to receive from our trust friends and also the work that has gone in from all our staff.”