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A1 Investments & Resources (ASX:AYI) feeling the impact of COVID-19
  • Investment firm A1 Investments & Resources (AYI) has updated the market on how it's handling the COVID-19 pandemic
  • AYI's WA-based sea cucumber business has faced some exporting issues due to the coronavirus
  • There are no passenger flights to Japan from Perth at the moment, meaning all small volumes of air-freight must either go by dedicated freighters or be trans-shipped to Sydney or Melbourne
  • Further, AYI's operation plan requires the company to export its dried sea cucumber product to Japan for further processing before the product is marketed
  • However, AYI's manufacturing requirements will be further affected by the current shutdowns in Japan, and will likely be slow until November 2020
  • The company is also aiming to sell its product in China by the start of next winter
  • AYI shares are suspended, with last trade at 0.1 cents per share

Investment firm A1 Investments & Resources (AYI) has updated the market on how it's handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sea cucumber business

AYI's operations in Shark Bay, Western Australia have been somewhat impacted by COVID-19.

Travel restrictions in WA have prevented board members and consultants travelling to the project. However, AYI has agents on-site in Denham to supervise the finalisation of its sea cucumber processing factory and the commencement of harvesting and production.

The company is expecting final approval for the factory late this month and harvesting with follow soon after.

Shark Bay Sea Cucumbers. Sourced from AYI.

Operational difficulties were felt in late April due to regional travel restrictions, however, AYI said these difficulties were relatively minor.

"Good planning and coordination have been required during this difficult period. It certainly felt like we were walking an operational tight rope on many occasions," the company said.

AYI's supplier, Tidal Moon, is now in the final phase of obtaining export authority, which should be available in late May or early June.

Like most export businesses, AYI is struggling to arrange air freight of its sea cucumber product from Perth. There are no passenger flights to Japan from Perth at the moment, meaning all small volumes of sea cucumbers to be transported via air-freight must either go by dedicated freighters or be trans-shipped to Sydney or Melbourne.

Blue Ocean Japan

AYI's operational plan requires the company to export the dried sea cucumber product to Japan for further processing before the product is marketed.

Japan is currently in a state of emergency due to the pandemic, with hospitals stretched beyond its ICU capacity.

Luckily, AYI's subsidiarity, Blue Ocean Japan, has centred its operations in northern Honshu, a region where the virus is at a minimal impact.

However, AYI's manufacturing requirements will be further affected by the current shutdowns and it will likely be slow until November 2020.

"We expect to have our final processed product available for sale and distribution before October 2020, but full-scale production may not be possible until the end of the year," the company said.

China

China is reporting it is no longer affected by the pandemic and that business is back to usual. However, the general population remains sceptical of the government's claims that the virus is behind the country.

Even if China has reduced the number of people contracting the virus, there will still be a risk until a vaccine is created.

"Until an effective vaccine is readily available it is more than likely the same problems that took place in winter in China will again occur in late 2020," the company told the market.

AYI says it wants to have its product in the Chinese market before the start of the next winter season.

AYI shares are suspended, with last trade at 0.1 cents per share.


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