NZ King Salmon aims to lift the retail sales proportion of the business to 50 per cent over the next year as it reduces its exposure to the world food service market so ravaged by Covid-19.
Pre-pandemic, sales income for the world's biggest producer of premium king salmon was 75 per cent from the food service sector and 25 per cent from its value-added retail brands Ora King and Regal.
Discussing the company's annual result, managing director and chief executive Grant Rosewarne said retail sales were now around 30 per cent.
"But we really need to push that up to 50 per cent - we want a completely even, balanced business for resilience. It'll take about a year to do that and you'll see it kick off in earnest about February."
The South Island-based company posted operating ebitda of $25.1 million, within its half-year guidance of $25-$28.5m, and similar to FY19's $25.2m.
The result for the year ended June 30 was despite a 50 per cent sales revenue drop during level 4 lockdown, and a drop in harvest volume.
Revenue at $155.3m was down 10 per cent on the previous year. Net profit of $18m was up 59 per cent. Sales volumes dipped 16 per cent to 6331 tonnes, while stronger pricing achieved $24.54/kg, up 7 per cent.
The company qualified as an essential industry during lockdown and was able to keep harvesting and selling from its Marlborough Sounds farms. It took the wage subsidy and was able to retain all its 550 staff.
Chairman John Ryder said the year had been one of the most challenging in his business career.
Rosewarne said there had been market surprises during the pandemic.
"Our customers, our importers, our distributors pivoted their businesses. Leading restaurants might now have takeaways or home delivery, and fishmongers, fish stores which were not typical customers, have started to sell our product.
"Another surprise is the markets doing best for us are ones Covid-challenged. The USA is an incredible bright spot for us but you wouldn't think so given the state of that country."
The US is the company's biggest market, taking 37 per cent of its exports.
"Australia is also up on where we thought given the challenges in Victoria.
"There's weakness in New Zealand because of the Auckland shutdown, Auckland is a third of our domestic sales. That's unexpectedly impacted us because we thought we'd got through.
"China is quite weak. We've been in and out of China three times - from zero to building up and then zero. It's happened three times."
New Zealand retail sales had lifted, "but we need further growth and development there to offset what's happened in food service".