AFTER its deferred market listing, North Star Meat Merchants, Inc. is focusing on growing the business using funds from partners while waiting for the right time to hold an initial public offering (IPO).

“Rather than focusing on an IPO, with us just waiting for the right time, [we will] just focus on the fundamentals of the business,” North Star Chief Executive Officer Anthony Ng said in a recent interview with BusinessWorld.

“So, rather, we would focus on improving right now the business itself, growing the business with the support of partners and banks, [since] the opportunity is there,” he added.

North Star, an end-to-end fresh frozen meat retailer, counts SM Markets, United Steak, Waltermart, and Alfamart as among its retail partners.

Mr. Ng said the company remains keen on an IPO possibly in 2023 or by early 2024. The maiden offering was supposed to run from June 13 to 17, 2022 from which the company expects to raise around P3.5 billion.

“If I had a magic genie, of course, we would like [the IPO] to be 2023, early 2024, but we cannot go against the situation. It’s global, it’s not even domestic,” he said.

In March, North Star filed the registration application for its IPO with 1.8 billion outstanding shares to be offered to investors. Days before the offer period, the company said that it was deferring the offering due to market volatility.

“Two days into pricing, we realized [that] it’s bound to enter a bear territory. All of the indications were moving toward that. In my head, it was [a] very obvious decision that had to be made,” Mr. Ng said.

He added that the company is waiting for an indication that the economy is beginning to bounce back.

“But obviously, no one knows, it’s as good as anybody’s guess,” he said. “So, until that indication comes, we will be in a standby mode.”

According to Mr. Ng, what the company is constantly trying to improve its revenues and profit.

“[It’s going to be] continuous projects, continuous expansions, continuous ways of finding creative avenues where we can enhance our topline and bottom line,” he said.

Mr. Ng also said that prices are increasing abroad and that there is a “supply crunch” locally, prompting North Star to stock up.

“All of our finances right now are directed towards securing stocks in the most efficient manner,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ng said the company is on track to reach its 2022 topline target by the end of this year.

“Our guidance was P9 billion to P9.5 billion. At least, so far, ‘wag lang may mangyari lang sa (as long as nothing’s going to happen in the) last quarter, which is an important part of the year. If we annualize our results, we will reach P9 billion to P9.5 billion,” he said.

According to the company’s website, North Star’s full-year sales last year reached P9.28 billion, up by 52.5% from P6.09 billion in 2020.

Its net income last year reached P610.47 million, more than twice the earlier year’s P238.83 million. — Justine Irish D. Tabile