Oceana Group Limited has leapfrogged its position on the transformation ladder from a level 3 to a black-owned level 2 broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) contributor and Value Adding Enterprise. The group’s new transformation credentials have been independently assessed and verified by accredited rating agency, Empowerdex. The significance of the improvement is the fact that the group was able to increase its score on the B-BBEE scorecard by an additional 10.65 points during the 2011 financial year.

According to Oceana Group’s Chief Executive Officer, Francois Kuttel, “In order to reach the level 2 status that we were targeting, Oceana only needed to obtain 85 points, compared to the 83.31 points previously achieved. We are extremely proud to have achieved 93.96 points, which was made possible by integrating transformation into our business strategy and educating our employees about the Department of Trade and Industry’s Codes of Good Practice (Codes). Following the increase in Brimstone’s shareholding within Oceana, our black ownership percentage increased from 50.5 % to 55.85%.”

Kuttel adds that the allocation of long-term fishing rights in 2005 prompted the acceleration of empowerment initiatives within the group. He says that Oceana’s transformation journey began with its first B-BBEE transaction in 1994. In 2000, a strategy aligned to the B-BBEE Act and Codes was launched. It was geared towards implementing clear and measurable plans on each element of the BEE scorecard and focused the transformation agenda across every aspect of the business.

During the last year Oceana improved its score on every element of the Codes where a full score had not already been achieved. Some of the factors that contributed to Oceana’s improved transformation status were recognition of its black employee share scheme, the Khula Trust, as a black new entrant and sensitisation campaigns amongst employees across the group aimed at raising awareness about the various categories of disability in order to show the extent of employment of persons with disabilities.

The Khula Trust gives 2,439 employee beneficiaries, including those no longer in the group’s employ, a participatory right to 14,2 million shares in Oceana. At 31 December 2011, the market value of the shares owned by the Trust was R 682 million. The pre tax value of the Khula Trust to employee beneficiaries was R 682 million less the amount due to the corporate beneficiaries of R196 million, which amounts to R 486 million.

Oceana implemented spend on the skills development of black employees was doubled from more than R6 million in 2010 to more than R13 million in 2011, while spend on suppliers with a turnover below R35 million (Qualifying Small Enterprises and Exempted Micro Enterprises) increased from R175,3 million in 2010 to R422,9 million in 2011. In addition, the corporate social investment policy was revised to focus on education and food security in the coastal fishing communities within which the group operates such as Lamberts Bay, St Helena Bay and Hout Bay. Financial support is provided to black owned joint venture partners.

Oceana’s black-owned level 2 status, which equates to a 125% recognition level on the government’s B-BBEE scorecard, poses significant benefits for its suppliers. The Value Adding Enterprise status allows suppliers to recognise an additional 25% for each R1.00 spent. Furthermore, as a black-owned company, generic suppliers to Oceana qualify for points under a sub-category of the procurement scorecard.

The elements of the B-BBEE scorecard seek to ensure that government achieves its objective of addressing the vast racial and gender inequalities in the distribution of and access to wealth, income, skills and employment in South Africa. The South African government recently demonstrated its continuing commitment to a broad-based approach to empowerment by gazetting the B-BBEE Amendment Bill, which, among others, aims to promote adherence to the B-BBEE Act and Codes.

As a leader in the fishing industry in South Africa, Oceana realises the need to be at the forefront in respect of empowerment in order to demonstrate our support for government’s transformation objectives and deliver on the expectations of all its stakeholders.

For more information, kindly contact OGL Communications Manager, Anthea Abraham: aabraham@oceana.co.za.