The Standard Group is banking on an expanded product portfolio and more focus on digital media platforms to lift its earnings and grow shareholder value.
The company rolled out major products and platforms last year that are already having a major impact and shaping public dialogue across the country.
These include the Farm Kenya Initiative that is radically changing the view that Kenyans hold on agriculture, while helping deepen conversations on food security.
The media house, which runs the country’s oldest newspaper, The Standard, as well as Kenya’s first independent television station KTN, also recently launched two radio stations - Spice FM and Vybez FM.
Also new to the firm’s stable are Pulser and Travelog, which are monthly publications that focus on the local entertainment and travel industries respectively.
Last year, Standard Group launched KTN Farmers’ TV that is a specialty channel for the local agribusiness value chain and KTN Burudani TV, an entertainment channel.
“We are now concentrating on trying to expand revenue streams for the group. While the newspaper remains valuable for the group, we see a lot of opportunities in electronic media and we are expanding our offering on radio and TV,” said board chairman Robin Sewell during the company’s annual general meeting in Nairobi yesterday.
Other brands that make up The Standard Group family include Radio Maisha, KTN News, Think Outdoor and The Nairobian.
Standard Group chief executive Orlando Lyomu said that much of the groundwork for the new products was laid last year and the products are expected to start impacting the company’s revenues in the course of this year, while full impact will be felt in 2020.
“We have been aggressive in creating new platforms and products to grow revenues. A lot of work was done last year and we expect to see the impact in terms of revenues partly in 2019, but mostly in 2020,” he said.
“Within the existing and new platforms, we want to drive new and innovative products. I believe with that we will see a much improved performance going forward.”
“What we did last year was start on a journey to transform the business. Other than the new products, we also started looking internally at where we could get value by driving efficiencies,” said Lyomu.
During the AGM, shareholders approved a dividend of Sh0.60 per share, which Lyomu said was a decision by the company to appreciate its investors, despite a tumultuous 2018.
He said the media house had to balance between giving shareholders a return on their investment now, and sustaining dividend pay in the coming years through reinvesting some of the profits in the business.
“It is a delicate balance between financing growth for the company and giving investors a return on investment,” said Lyomu.
“As a business, we have to ensure that we keep driving value to a point where we can meet these competing demands, which are for the business to invest in new assets, the shareholders to get a return on their money and for the business to retain enough of the earnings to keep the best staff and roll out competitive products.”
The CEO also told the shareholders that The Standard Group had decided to continue working with the government despite a huge debt that the Government Advertising Agency owes the industry.
The board, he said, made a decision to continue working with the state and though the debt was long overdue, the company is confident that it is collectable.