Vitality returns to Vita Group
VTG’s history provides a rich vein of learning for its management. The large network of FoneZone stores was an early beneficiary of increasing mobile penetration in Australia, but as smartphones began to dominate in 2007/2008, the chain was unable to secure stock and quickly lost market share. The franchise now contributes virtually no profit to Vita Group.
Having understood Fone Zone’s weakness, management developed a network of TLS retail stores, finding it easier to secure product, particularly iPhones, since the relationship with Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) was managed by Telstra itself.
Competitive advantage can be attributed to two sources; First, the Telstra brand affords VTG a range of benefits including an ability to leverage Telstra’s substantial marketing budget ($421m in FY15).
The firm’s second and much harder to replicate competitive advantage is its sales culture. I believe without the right culture your business and your customers have nothing but under Maxine Horne’s passionate leadership, an incredibly successful and repeatable sales and service culture has emerged.
Originally, management expected that at maturity, the Telstra retail stores would generate average EBITDA of $250k p.a. This was soon exceeded, is now over $500k per store, and management expects further growth, boosted by product launches that have a positive impact on profitability. Operating cash flow is exceptional, like-for-like EBITDA growth of >20% has been evident for some years, and through Retail, SMB, and Vita Enterprise Solutions, the company is aiming for $100m of EBITDA compared to $33.5m in HY16.
VTG’s pursuit of growth in the small & medium enterprise market is anticipated to be followed by the enterprise business, neither of which have the limits imposed on the retail business. In our view appears to be value and upside based on even a conservative estimate of future earnings.
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Roger Montgomery founded Montgomery Investment Management, www.montinvest.com in 2010. Roger brings more than two decades of investment, financial market experience and knowledge. Roger also authored the best-selling investment book, Value.able.