Rogers is a multi-faceted services and investment company with roots in Mauritius stretching all the way back to 1899. As such, the firm has been contributing to the development of the island for nearly 120 years and as a good corporate citizen, its own development has remained closely linked to that of the country in the post-independence era. Over the last half century, Rogers has been a forerunner in various sectors including tourism and aviation, playing a leading role of the setting up of the national airline, Air Mauritius on the eve of independence.
“We have often been among the first to venture into greenfield sectors and the success we have met has been shared with our citizens through our significant contribution to GDP and job creation in Mauritius,” says Rogers CEO Philippe Espitalier-Noël.
A global growth story
However, the Rogers story is no longer centred on Mauritius alone. In recent years, the company has expanded out of its Mauritian base, establishing a corporate presence in several emerging markets, particularly in the Afro-Asian region.
Thanks to a series of measured and adaptive management practises and a sense of leadership, agility and dynamism, Rogers now has a sustainable presence on three continents; Africa, Asia and Europe.
“It has taken much business acumen and energy to drive our Group’s growth beyond the borders of our country. Our financial strength and growth history over several decades despite the ups and downs of the global economy have forged our credibility with our foreign counterparts.”
Through its subsidiaries and investments, Rogers currently has more than 50 offices in sixteen territories, namely Mauritius, Reunion Island, Mayotte, Madagascar, Comoros, the Seychelles, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, India, Singapore, Bangladesh, France, Morocco, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
This internationalisation of the Rogers growth story is largely symbolic of the rise of Mauritius on the global stage over the last two decades, as the tiny island nation has become renowned across the world as a luxury holiday destination and for its first-rate services industry, particularly in finance and investment.
Consequently, hospitality and finance are two of four focus sectors for Rogers, with logistics and property the other key areas that it offers services to in Mauritius and in other destinations around the world.
“We definitely have a competitive edge in these served markets, which have become our core areas of competency,” claims Espitalier-Noël. “Over the years, we have successfully executed our strategy to achieve leaner and more streamlined operations.
“We are now an international services and investment company with a structure that enables us to focus on those things which we do best and capitalise on opportunities for growth, building on our strengths. The fact that these sectors are mainly service-oriented also makes it easier for us to export our know-how and expand into existing or new markets.”
A bubbling tourism sector
Focusing on its domestic hospitality business, in the last year or so Rogers has benefitted from a marked upturn in tourism arrivals after a few sluggish years with regards to visitor numbers.
Espitalier-Noël holds up the improved revenue made by subsidiary Veranda Leisure & Hospitality (VLH) as evidence to this point, which is further strengthened by the fact that the resort operator turned in a satisfactory performance despite drops in Euro and Pound Sterling exchange rates.
In order to capitalise on the growth observed in the domestic tourism market, Rogers has chosen to significantly increase its investment in the hospitality sector since 2016.
“This includes an expansion of our leisure offerings to enhance the guest experience,” the CEO explains. “We have been capitalising on golf tourism, on gastronomic offerings, and wellness services, amongst others.
“Our group has been infusing innovation for decades across the entire travel and tourism value chain in Mauritius and we are intent on going further in this direction.”
After recording a bumper 11% rise in visitor numbers in 2016 and following this up with a smaller (yet still impressive) 5% increase last year, Espitalier-Noël is confident of a similar performance in 2018 within the tourism industry, which is set to further boost Rogers’ hospitality business.
Regional fintech leader
However, Mauritius is not just thought of as a high-end holiday destination. The country has also built a reputation as a world class investment hub intersecting Africa, Asia and Europe with an advanced fintech network buttressing the sector.
Rogers has embraced this burgeoning fintech culture on the island and become well-versed in the latest technological trends occurring in the business and finance world, offering a range of products and services through its investment arm Rogers Capital.
“Rogers Capital delivers on our ambition to combine world-class financial expertise with leading edge technology to provide sophisticated solutions to businesses, institutions and individuals in their evolution under a solid and respected brand.
“Our fintech served market currently employs 300 professionals and is structured around three core pillars: Corporate Services, Technology Services and Financial Services.”
The Corporate Services segment provides fiduciary, outsourcing and consulting services to an established customer base in Europe, the US, Africa and Asia (India and China), while the Technology Services division is an end-to-end provider of integrated business solutions, cloud computing and mobile connectivity services in Mauritius, the Indian Ocean islands and South Africa.
“As for Financial Services, it is in the process of introducing some disruptive fintech offerings in respect of credit and electronic payment on the domestic market,” Espitalier-Noël reveals.
In its remaining focus areas, Rogers continues to perform to a high standard, with the logistics sector recording a 14% increase in profit during the last financial year and a long-term strategy in place to expand the reach of the logistics business beyond its current footprint under the brand Velogic.
On the property front, Rogers’ listed property fund Ascencia continues to perform well and was the largest single contributor to the group’s overall profitability in 2017 with a profit after tax of R974 million.
Ascencia was founded by Rogers in 2007 to manage its property portfolio, which includes commercial, industrial, agricultural and office properties in prime locations across the island. The fund has since grown into one of the largest property companies listed on the Stock Exchange of Mauritius, with an investment portfolio currently valued at R10.7 billion.
“The sector remains dynamic with the recent opening of a new mall in November 2017, and the construction of a new one in the South of the Island in the pipeline.”
A proud SEMSI firm
Aside from its operational performances, Rogers takes great pride in being one of just 13 companies listed on the SEMSI – the sustainability index on the Stock Exchange of Mauritius.
“We at Rogers believe that energy drives sustainability and in conjunction with our different business sectors, we intend to continue integrating the sustainability philosophy into our business strategies.”
It is worth noting that the group’s responsible and inclusive approach to sustainable development has been singled out by the UN for its work undertaken at national level. “We are proud to have been included in the Global Compact International Yearbook 2017 for the work done over the past few years with respect to lagoon and marine environment protection.
“The balance between economic, social and environmental goals has become a constant in our projects. We are also working hard to reduce our carbon footprint in environmental metrics such as energy, water and waste consumption.”
The company has also been able to provide tangible success in this respect after both its upmarket resorts in Bel Ombre received the Green Key label, awarded to hotels that promote sustainable tourism.
Over the last three centuries, Rogers has continually developed in tandem with Mauritius, but how will it maintain this growth curve in the rapidly-changing globalised world of the future? The answer lies in having a clear strategy, says Espitalier-Noël.
“We have well-structured businesses equipped with the right mix of leadership skills and dynamism to seize new opportunities and drive organic growth.
“Our three main pillars will be the expansion of our fintech-related activities, the expansion of our hospitality business with a sizeable leisure arm as well as the enhancement of our existing operations with a property component on our Southwestern estate.
“The overall objective is to achieve a more balanced contribution to group profits from each of our served markets.”