The Board of Goddard Enterprises Limited is pleased to submit the Annual Report of the Group for the financial year ended September 30, 2008. Total revenue increased by 26.3% to $954.7 million when compared to prior year. On October 1, 2007, we acquired a controlling interest in Minvielle & Chastanet Limited (M&C) in St. Lucia and so for comparative purposes, if we exclude the turnover of M&C from current year's sales, Group Revenue increased marginally by 0.5% over last year.
Gross profit of $287.2 million represented 30.1% of Sales, compared to 32.2% in 2007, as a result of increased raw material and commodity prices from our suppliers which were not completely passed on to our customers. Selling, marketing and administration expenses at $228.6 million were 23.9% of sales compared to 26.0% last year as a result of a continuous process of our justifying and controlling overhead costs.
Profit from operations before other gains and losses reached $61.7 million compared to $47.0 million in 2007, an increase of 31.2% which was a creditable performance when rising oil and commodity prices over the period were taken into account. Other gains and losses (net) at $11.75 million were down $1.26 million on prior year mainly as a result of a decision taken to revalue our investment properties every year instead of every five years as was done in 2007. This methodology is also more acceptable to IFRS. Finance costs up 46.7% over 2007 at $10.9 million was due to increased borrowings to finance the acquisition of M&C but at 14.8% of operating profit, compared favourably with 12.4% in 2007 and was well within acceptable limits.
Our share of income from associated companies at $8.1 million was up $2.0 million over prior year, resulting in income before taxation of $70.6 million, a 20.4% improvement over prior year. The increased charge for tax at 25% of income before taxation (2007 – 21.4%) was as a result of the inclusion of M&C, where the tax rate at 30% in St. Lucia, is higher than the majority of other jurisdictions in which we operate. After deducting minority interest of $10.0 million (2007 - $8.4 million), net income for the year attributable to equity holders of the Company totaled $42.9 million compared to $37.7 million in 2007 and was the highest level achieved by the Group to date. This translates into earnings per share of 73.7 cents compared to 66.2 cents in 2007, an increase of 11.3%, and which included an additional 9.4 cents per share this year attributable to the inclusion of M&C.
Turning to the Balance Sheet, our working capital ratio at 1.68 is marginally above last year at 1.65 and reflected continued stringent controls over inventories and receivables. Our total debt to total assets ratio at 40.2%, when compared to 29.3% in 2007, reflected the acquisition of M&C but was still well within generally acceptable borrowing limits. Net asset value per share now stands at $7.29 compared to $6.76 last year. Our quoted share price as at September 30 on The Barbados Stock Exchange was $7.90 and equates to a price earnings ratio of 10.7 times earnings (2007: 9.4 times earnings). It should also be noted that our rating agency CariCRIS, has performed their annual review again this year and we are pleased to report that our rating has been maintained at Cari AA- the same as in 2007.
The acquisition of M&C is our largest acquisition to date. We at Goddard Enterprises Limited continue to seize opportunities both regionally and extra-regionally to grow our Group and we see the acquisition of M&C as fulfilling part of our regional thrust. The diversity and strength of the combined entities will allow us to take advantage of numerous expansion possibilities throughout the region and to capitalize on the economies of scale which will accrue to the larger combined entity going forward.
The coming financial year will be a very challenging one for the Group with the effects of the global financial crisis expected to be more strongly felt in early 2009. The challenge will be to consistently maintain our level of customer service and constantly review our cost base in order to weather the storm and come out of this recession with stronger and more efficient businesses.