Yesterday afternoon, the CEO of Cefour Wine & Beverage Mats Bergholts issued a statement to inform the market about recent events, at least operationally. He missed, however, the opportunity to clarify the many question marks there are which are weighing on the company’s image and therefore also on its share price at the moment.
But let’s start with the positives:
Like we have previously written about, Cefour attended the ECRM annual purchasing trade show in San Diego, USA last week. Out of the 52 purchasing managers that were present, 44 chose to book a meeting with Cefour in order to learn more about its Easy Wine Glass, amongst others Walgreens, Circle K and Walt Disney Resorts, as well as several leading chains in South America and Woolworths from South Africa.
Cefour managed to reach the next evaluation stage with several US companies such as Spartan Stores in Michigan with 300 stores, Remke Stores in Ohio/Kentucky with 13 upscale supermarkets, Murphy Oil with 600 stores which are adjacent to Walmart stores, Delhaize with 1,600 store under the brands Hannaford and Food Lion, and several others. The biggest fish of them all is probably Walgreens which immeditely started a trial campaign in one of its stores in Texas. US-wide, Walgreens has more than 8,300. (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=508614859229837&set=a.115547131869947.24158.115163781908282&type=1&theater).
So far so good. Interest in the US for Easy Wine Glass remains high which bodes well for future volume growth. Mr Bergholts seems to do a good job when it comes to selling a product that delivers value-add to customers.
The disappointing fact with yesterday’s statement was that Mr Bergholts stopped right there, without commenting on the recent negative buzz around the company including the options deal of COB Mats Krönlein and the biggest shareholder Dejan Shabacker. Neither did Mr Bergholts find it necessary to comment on the recent announcement that Cefour is starting a closer co-operation with Shabacker Investment Group regarding advertising rights on disposable glasses for wine, water and juices.
Many questions remain
We put out a list of questions that we believe need to be answered soon in order to restore confidence in the company and its reputation. Neither of them have been answered with yesterday’s statement:
- Going from wine to wine, water and juices – what has caused this decision (new process, new prospects)?
- From which date on will Cefour be producing and selling the new products?
- What are the main end markets for the new products?
- Is there a need for separate machines for wine, water and juices?
- How big is the investment need?
- What kind of volume increases can be expected?
- When can we see the first results on the P&L?
- Which potential do you see in the licensing rights? We know from a previous deal that one year in the Balkan region was sold for SEK 1m to Shabacker
- Which leads directly to maybe one of the most important questions: what does Cefour need Shabacker for? Does Shabacker have any know-how, contacts in this business? The financing could have been sold by other means
- What makes Shabacker better suited to sell the advertising space than Cefour itself?
- Since when did Shabacker have the buy option on Krönlein?
More needs to come from Cefour’s management and Krönlein in terms of answers and explanations and it needs to come soon. The lack of understanding just how important it is to clarify these issues as soon as possible is unfortunate. It is a pity that is creating shareholder value with product development and new contracts on one side, just to destroy it by unclear communication on the other side.
Management of publicly listed companies is responsible to take care its shareholders, and not only the big ones. Many times it seems as if smaller companies, not the least on Aktietorget, forget that a listing on the equity market is not simply an easy source for much needed cash; it also brings a junk of responsibility with itself. Transparent communication is only one of them.