Business
JM | Nov 25, 2021

GraceKennedy continues to make the most out of opportunities during pandemic crisis

Al Edwards

Al Edwards / Our Today

administrator
GraceKennedy headquarters in downtown Kingston.

Caribbean conglomerate GraceKennedy, headquartered in downtown Kingston, Jamaica, continues to chalk up double-digit profits and roll out new products and services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Its revenues are up 11 per cent to J$92 billion year-over-year, generating a net profit of J$6.2 billion.

Over the last two years, GraceKennedy has racked up consistent and sustainable after-tax profits. In 2019 it posted $3.7 billon; 2020 saw that rise to $4.9 billion and this year it came in at $6.2 billion.

Grace’s stock now trades at between $98 and $102 with shareholders noting the jump from $62.68 in December 2020.

Don Wehby, Group CEO for GraceKennedy.

Speaking at an investor briefing held earlier this week, Group CEO Don Wehby said: “Our supply chain remains robust, consistent and a key priority area. Our head of procurement, Zak Mars, has signaled to me that there could be a shortage of glass bottles.

“We have managed our cashflow, liquidity and cost containment well. The Bank has managed its margins given that interest rates are seemingly on the rise.”

Money services form the largest contributor to Group profits and this year Grace’s revenues and profits from this business line increased in Jamaica, Guyana and Trinidad. Digital transactions exceeded the prior year by 117 per cent.

Wehby added that digital transactions over recent years have been growing 35 to 40 per cent while traditional retail is not registering growth.

Exterior of the First Global Money Link Agent location in GK ONE at Highgate in St. Mary.

Banking reported increases in revenue over 2020 and this was attributable to its payment business and online banking platform.

“Of course, with the online banking comes investment and you will see the Bank’s profits are marginally down because we are depreciating the digital capital expenditure for Global Access and other digital initiatives. The payback is going to be significant in the future.

“First Global Bank has been very prudent with its loan provisioning, given the uncertainty in our economy.”

FOOD DIVISION

Domestic food showed growth in both revenue and profits over the prior year. Grace Foods and Services is having an exceptional year, declared the GraceKennedy boss, significantly increasing sales of corned beef, mackerel and the drink, Tropical Rhythms.

An assortment of flavours under the popular Tropical Rhythms brand by GraceKennedy. (Photo: Taste of Trelawny)

The food division’s US business has had its best year with operating profits up by 29 per cent.

GraceKennedy has always stressed the importance of the diaspora market and serving the needs of Caribbean people abroad. This year it has launched nine new products across the US, UK, Canada and Latin America and the Caribbean.

‘Majesty’ is doing significant renovations to more than double its capacity for patty production in Florida.

Wehby took particular pride in the performance of Grace’s ‘Mighty Malt’ and the growth of ‘Nourishment’, which is a hit in the UK.

There can be no doubt that Grace’s international food business is growing.

876 Spring Water brand, acquired by the GraceKennedy Group. (Photo: GraceKennedy Group)

“We have a healthy pipeline for mergers and acquisitions with both our food and financial services businesses both inside and outside Jamaica. We have made two moves this year, acquiring Scotia Life and 876 Water. We are in advanced discussions with another potential acquisition. There will be more acquisitions in 2022,” said Wehby, who is also a Jamaican Government senator.

LISTING ON INTERNATIONAL STOCK EXCHANGES

With Grace moving full steam ahead, creating brands and taking market share in international markets, is it considering listing on renowned bourses, say London or New York?

Wehby addressed this question, saying: “Our food business would be attractive as a listed operation on an international stock exchange. I am getting feedback that Grace Foods would do well on the London Stock Exchange.

“Part of our journey to our Vision 2030 will be engaging with investment bankers to advise us on this important initiative. We believe that GK Financial Group as a listed company on a recognised stock exchange and the Food Division, whether Nasdaq, London, New York or Canada, would obviously maximise shareholder value.”

GraceKennedy will be doubling its capital expenditure in 2022. This year it spent US$17 million and next year will be taking that to US$35 million. A big part of that will be earmarked for new technology and machinery in order to be even more competitive.

Comments

What To Read Next