Eco Investor November 2017

Core Securities

More Light on Beacon Solar

So far Beacon Lighting has given little information on how its small growth business, Beacon Solar, is going. This year there is a tad more information. Beacon is near the end of a National Solar Project installing 4 MW of solar energy on the roofs of over 70 of its retail stores.

The project is by Upstream Energy, which has a collaborative partnership with Beacon Solar. The project will reduce Beacon's annual energy costs by over 20 per cent per store, cut energy carbon emissions by almost 6 million kilograms each year, capitalize on under-utilized roof space in Beacon's leased buildings, and promote sustainability.

Beacon' says its electricity profile is particularly constant and predictable with seven-day consumption that is predominantly during daylight. As well as custom-designed solar power stations, Beacon is retro-fitting its stores with LED fixtures, providing heating, ventilation and airconditioning (HVAC) efficiency measures, and sub-metering to gain complete energy visibility.

Beacon says that when the project is completed late this year it will lower its retail energy carbon footprint by about 75 per cent and become a retail industry leader.

Upstream Energy devised the project and it is unclear what role Beacon Solar may be playing.

So how is Beacon Solar traveling? All we are told is that 2016-17 sales increased by 142.5 per cent, although we can assume that is off a low base, and that the growth is driven by providing innovative solar efficient solutions to commercial customers.

Beacon Solar custom designs and installs large scale solar systems, LED lighting upgrades, solar lighting including for carparks, and HVAC improvements. It also offers commercial finance for businesses switching to solar and power purchase agreements.

Beacon Solar's web site tells us that it installed a 100 kW solar system on Beacon Lighting's Distribution Centre. The PV panels form the word Beacon in capital letters. The aim was to showcase solar technology while reducing Beacon's operating costs and carbon footprint. A Tesla car charging station is available to the public during business hours. The projected savings of the project are a 24 per cent reduction in energy consumption and a projected return in investment of 14.1 per cent.

Another growth business, Beacon International, operated in Hong Kong and has now opened in Germany and the USA. Again, we are not told much except that Beacon International continued to sell a number of new licences for the Group's intellectual property. Beacon is also investigating local and international business acquisition opportunities that complement the core business activities so Beacon International may or may not be involved in that.

Beacon did say that its emerging businesses made an encouraging start to 2017-18. Perhaps we will hear more when the numbers are larger?

Overall, Beacon is traveling well. Its main growth strategy is new stores. It added 11 net new stores in 2016-17 through openings and acquisitions and now has 107. 101 are company stores and six are franchised. Company store sales increased by 10 per cent, commercial sales increased by 16 per cent, and online sales increased by 53 per cent. During the year it also acquired the licence for the GE Street Lighting business. The company said it is looking to deliver record sales and profits in 2017-18.

Shareholders seem happy. Over 99 per cent of shareholders voted for the re-election of executive chairman and substantial shareholder Ian Robinson. Over 99 per cent voted for the adoption of Remuneration Report, and over 99 per cent voted for the approval of performance rights. (ASX: BLX)







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