Message from the Chairman

Lance Y. Gokongwei
Lance Y. Gokongwei

To our valued shareholders,

Through the years, URC has established a rich heritage of producing great snack-foods and beverage brands that are now household names across the ASEAN and OCEANIA. The company experienced stellar growth over the last decade and the business has doubled in size.  This was driven by winning innovation that resulted in strong market positions as well as the acquisitions in Australia and New Zealand. In our home market the Philippines, the introduction of Great Taste White coffee in 2011 disrupted the category by bringing a new type of coffee experience, especially to the younger consumers. Internationally, the scale we reached in Vietnam and Thailand led the overall organic growth of the business. URC now has a wider regional footprint – with presence in 13 markets, playing in 4 large branded foods categories and offerings in the mainstream and affordable premium pricing segments. We also have currently 5 strategic partnerships & joint-ventures as well as a strong Agro-Industrial & Commodities business in the Philippines.

Despite the stellar growth in the last 8 years, the last three has been a very challenging period for the business as we faced unexpected headwinds that muted our momentum. The growth of the business brought in a lot of complexity from our supply chain down to our route to market processes. Our presence in high growth markets such as the Philippines has also brought in a lot of new players which further exacerbated the situation as competitive dynamics became tougher. URC has built very strong brands but we had to step back and rethink how to navigate this new normal. There is cognizance that we need to operate differently by adopting a new structure, embedding new capabilities aligned to global best practices as well as organizational & leadership restructuring. As the world and consumers evolve in the coming decades, I believe that we now need to transform URC from a local, founder-led company to a more global organization with the best in class capabilities.

As the world and consumers evolve in the coming decades, I believe that we now need to transform URC from a local, founder-led company to a more global organization with best in class capabilities.

My Appointment as Chairman and Other Developments

Let me now talk about some key internal changes and appointments that happened in May 2018. The board has formally appointed me to be the company’s Chairman and we welcomed Mr. Irwin C. Lee to succeed me and lead URC as President & CEO.

As Chairman, my overall focus is on the strengthening of our governance model by leading a more active board who in turn will challenge and provide better guidance to the Executive Leadership Team. We have started to recruit new independent members to the URC board, noteworthy is the addition of Mr. Cesar Purisima, a seasoned executive and a former Head of the Department of Finance (DoF). Mr. Irwin Lee is also concurrently a Director of the board aside from his role as CEO. This board composition and diversity of experience will hopefully lead to better outcomes for the business and its leaders. The two other important areas for me as Chairman is to ensure that the right set of strategies are set in place especially on Innovation and that capital allocation is optimized. I am also very involved in reviewing and setting in place a talent management and development program to prepare the company for leadership succession.

With these changes, the board has given Mr. Irwin Lee full empowerment and support as President & CEO to drive URC’s strategic and enterprise transformation agenda. Irwin takes full accountability in ensuring the company pivots back to sustainable growth and is also encouraged to professionalize the business while maintaining the company’s entrepreneurial agility to compete in a more exciting and dynamic global environment. I believe that his 32 years of experience in FMCG and retail in both emerging and developed markets will infuse a lot of capabilities into the organization. 2018 has been a very challenging year for the business and I am confident that the plans set in place and coupled with the above changes will enable the company to achieve better results in the coming years.

We would like to express our gratitude for your continued trust and support.

This has been our motivation to deliver value to you, our shareholders.

Maraming Salamat Po.

Lance Y. Gokongwei


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