Jamaican conglomerate, GraceKennedy Group is investing heavily in its digital transformation, with the process continuing into 2022.
This investment will see Grace churning out more digital products and services across its group-wide structure. GraceKennedy CEO, Don Wehby outlined the areas of digital focus for the group and announced three new digital products being prepared for launch.
They are digital wallet with a prepaid Visa card backed by First Global Bank, Grace’s banking subsidiary; digital remittance products and digital bill payments.
Speaking at the company’s Investors’ Briefing yesterday (November 23), Wehby also spoke about Grace’s digital transformation roadmap, which is in place for 2022 for both the foods and financial services businesses.
Other digital transformation articulated by the GraceKennedy Group CEO includes:
- GraceKennedy’s Digital Factory started in February 2021 and developed a mobile app: GK One. The GK One App is a digital platform for customers to access GraceKennedy’s most frequently used services.
Digital Transformation (E-commerce):
- Hi-Lo Food Stores has launched its new online grocery shopping platform: Hi-Lo Online
- Web-based online shopping is accessible via www.hilofoodstoresja.com.
- In the USA, the e-commerce business through Instacart grew by 85 per cent over 2020
- In Canada, e-commerce through Walmart, grew by 100 per cent over 2020
Wehby said the directors are pleased with the $9.7 billion growth in revenues for the nine months ended September 30, 2021, which is an increase of 11.2 per cent. Net profit closed the period at $6.2 billion (2020: $4.9 billion), reflecting a 26.3 per cent or $1.3 billion year-over-year growth.
He explained that the company’s stock performance improved with a 58.4 per cent growth since December 2020, compared to a 1.7% growth for the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) Main Market Index.
GraceKennedy’s business highlights
- The 876 Spring Water brand, which GraceKennedy acquired on April 23, 2021
- Scotia Insurance Caribbean Limited (SIECL) Acquisition: GraceKennedy acquired 100% of Scotia Insurance Caribbean Limited (SIECL) on July 31, 2021, which has been rebranded to GK Life Insurance Eastern Caribbean Limited (GK Life). Wehby noted, “We had our first board meeting in November, and I had asked the management to look out for additional opportunities such as acquisition of life insurance companies in the Caribbean.”
- GK Weather Protect: GK General Insurance Company Limited (GKGI) launched its latest policy innovation, GK Weather Protect. This product, designed in conjunction with Jamaica’s Ministry of Agriculture, offers wind, rain and drought insurance for Jamaican farmers and fishers. Webhy believes that sustainable growth in Jamaica will come from Agriculture, particularly Agri-Processing, “something I feel very strongly about and that is how we going to reduce our high import bill for food product that is averaging about US$1 billion.”
- First Global Bank (FGB) Agency Banking: FGB continues to expand its banking agency network to 14, with three new Money Link locations in rural Jamaica: Highgate – St. Mary, Albert Town – Trelawny and Whitehouse, Westmoreland. The target is to have at least 20 in the near term, as per Webhy.
Financial services division highlights
- Money services showing revenue and profit growth over prior year: GK Money Services, which operates remittance business, showed increases in revenue and profit over prior year in its main markets – Jamaica, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago. Digital transactions exceed prior year by 117 per cent.
- Insurance showing revenue and profit growth over prior year: Key Insurance turned around the business to profitability, showing profit compared to losses prior to GK’s acquisition. GKGI continues to perform well over prior year.
- Banking & investment showing revenue growth over prior year: FGB, its commercial bank recorded increase in revenue over 2020 attributed to an increased focus on its payments business and its online banking platform.
Food division highlights
- Domestic Foods showed growth in revenues and profit over prior year: Grace foods and services (distributor of Grace–owned brands) is having an exceptional year with significant increases in revenue and profit with key productions (Corned Beef, Mackerel, Tropical Rhythms) doing very well.
- Continued launch of new products: Mixed Berries Food Drink, Dried Yellow Split Peas and Dried Seasonings (Ginger Turmeric and Cayenne)
- International Foods continue to show strong revenue and profit growth over prior year: The GK Group’s US business has been having its best year with operating profits increasing by 29 per cent. In the UK, GraceKennedy launched its Irie Eats Meal Kit in August, and the group is looking to its strong performance
- Nine exciting, new products were launched across the US, UK, Canada and GK Group’s Latin American and Caribbean markets. Additionally Majesty is doing significant renovation to more than double its capacity for patty production in Florida.