Net income for the year went up 4% to R1.6 billion (R1.5 billion) whilst profit from operations grew 14% to R49.0 million (R43.1 million).Profit attributable to owners was 20% higher at R146.5 million (R121.9 million). in addition, headline earnings per share increased by 2% to 167.96 cents per share (164.51 cents per share).
Notice is hereby given that the board has declared a final gross cash dividend from income reserves of 70 cents per share (56.00 cents per share net of dividend withholding tax at a rate of 20%) payable to shareholders recorded in the register on Friday, 3 November 2017.
As a result of the losses incurred in its local Tote and horseracing operations, the Group has embarked upon an initiative to modernise and reposition its business, which includes a significant cost saving initiative. The management structure has been rationalised and changed. Significant new betting products and technologies are being introduced. The Group has made offers of early retirement and voluntary retrenchment to all staff. These offers may be followed by a formal retrenchment process if need be. The board has approved a lump-sum spend of up to R30 million on the cost reduction initiative. The aforementioned lump sum will be charged to and form part of the costs in determining the Group's earnings per share for the year ending 31 July 2018. A separate and detailed account will be given of the amounts spent and the payback period thereof.
South African trading conditions remain challenging but we continue to be proactive in managing those challenges and identifying new opportunities. We have earmarked eight under-performing fixed odds outlets for joint ventures with Supabets and are in the process of submitting the relevant applications for regulatory approval. The first three of these are expected to commence trading during the course of October. Further joint ventures with Supabets will be considered. We are in the process of implementing the best of Supabets' software into our betting outlets and Supabets will be re-introducing betting on racing, supported and managed by our fixed odds business. The Tabonline website will be replaced with a new website using the best of Interbet's technology. Exciting new bets will be offered in the Group's fixed odds as well as Tote betting businesses. The Group's international operations, namely the export of live televisual South African horseracing and pari-mutuel betting through PGI, are anticipated to have another good year.
Group earnings will be impacted by the aforementioned cost reduction initiatives. Excluding these costs, the Group continues to target growth in normalised earnings per share/headline earnings per share.