Standard Group bets on tech, partnerships to boost revenues

Standard Group CEO Orlando Lyomu (left), acting Board Chairman Julius Kipngetich and the Group secretary Millicent Ng'etich during the company's AGM on June 23, 2022. [David Gichuru, Standard]

Standard Group is betting on new investments in digital media and strategic partnerships in a bid to expand market share and grow revenues in the midst of a challenging operating environment.

The media company's shareholders on Friday gave their nod to the leadership and a five-pronged strategy proposed to explore new revenue streams and reach more audiences across the region.

"In a rapidly advancing digital age, we prioritise versatility and vigilance in this competitive space," said acting Board Chairman Julius Kipngetich during the company's annual general meeting on Friday.

"Our strategic objectives include monetising new products, expanding customer reach, prioritising innovation, improving user experience and engagement, and achieving continued growth in digital subscriptions."

The company reported a Sh865 million loss after tax in 2022, with the board citing a difficult operating environment for the financial performance.

"In the face of adversity, we made substantial progress in 2022, adapting to changing market dynamics and embracing a digital-first approach to our business," said Dr Kipngetich.

"This strategic shift enabled us to capitalise on the growing popularity of streaming platforms and digital media consumption."

Standard Group's viewership on its official YouTube channel almost doubled from 267 million in 2021 to 408 million last year as more Kenyans continue to prioritise digital channels for their media consumption.

The company also recorded more than 131,000 daily unique subscribers on its digital e-paper product with other newly introduced products also gathering strong traction.

These include the value-added services (VAS) platform launched recently and the Standard Courier Services that began operations in 2021.

"The value-added services platform focuses on offering solutions around bulk short messages (SMSs), shortcodes, data and airtime distribution," said Chief Executive Orlando Lyomu.

"We also launched the Standard Courier Services after we realised that we had some extra capacity in our fleet and the courier business can utilise this capacity to bring in some revenue for the company."

Less than two years since being launched, the courier business has since reported eight-digit revenues with other new business lines also reporting strong growth in the review period.

Standard Group CEO Orlando Lyomu. [David Gichuru, Standadrd]

Spice FM and Vybes Radio, two of the latest additions of radio stations, reported 47 per cent and 35 per cent increase in revenues respectively.

Berur FM, the newly launched Kalenjin vernacular radio station, also recorded significant traction and was awarded a gold medal at the Communication Authority of Kenya Kuza Awards last week, alongside the more established and popular Radio Maisha.

Standard Group management said the key factors that affected performance last year included the General Election, government debt, supply chain disruptions, reduced advertising spending and rising fuel and food prices.

"High fuel costs are a big factor to our business in terms of affecting our operations and we are also affected by high fluctuations in the exchange rate because some of our digital assets are acquired in euros and dollars," explained Mr Lyomu.

Going forward, the company will be directing resources towards cost rationalisation and revenue diversification, boosting its digital offering and signing on more strategic partnerships.

"While the operating environment remains uncertain, we remain committed to implementing countermeasures to improve performance," said Kipngetich.

"Our integrated strategic plan incorporates a comprehensive turnaround strategy focused on implementing austerity measures and optimising revenue generation.

"We are confident that these initiatives will drive our path to recovery and ensure future success."

The board did not recommend the payment of any dividend for the year.

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