Business

Express Catering celebrates IPO success

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, July 28, 2017

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Tourism is booming, and so chief executive officer of Montego Bay-based Express Catering, Ian Dear, is not too surprised that the boom was so evident in the company's initial public offering (IPO) on the Jamaica Stock Exchange on July 12.

The offer, which sought to raise $490 million from the purchase of 327.5 million ordinary shares, opened at 9:00 am and was oversubscribed after a minute.

Dear told Wednesday night's gathering at the Monthly Investors Forum, hosted by the company's financial advisers Mayberry Investments Limited (MIL) at the Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston, that he was not only happy with the overwhelming support, but also the fact that the Jamaica Stock Exchange gave the second city its first taste of the activity courtesy of his company.

“The future is extremely bright,” he told the guests in Kingston, many of whom were getting a first-hand report of the investment climate for companies like Express Catering from Montego Bay and who shared in the celebration of the successful event.

He said that while Express Catering currently operates within the “captive space” of the Sangster International Airport (SIA), based on all the available information, it will continue to grow.

Tourism is the company's focus; customers are primarily US visitors spending US dollars, allowing Express Catering to be able to pay dividends to its shareholders. This has boosted its confidence immensely in a situation in which Jamaica generated US$1.46 billion in tourism earnings during the first six months of the 2017 calendar year.

But Dear says that despite Express Catering's safe investment environment, it is constantly evaluating the needs of its customers to identify their changing needs and to meet them.

“We have a tremendous opportunity in the airport facilities at Sangster International, which is growing by leaps and bounds, because the tourism industry is literally on fire. It's growing by leaps and bounds,” Dear told guests.

He said that with a tremendous amount of new hotel rooms coming on-board and with cruise visits growing, despite hiccups in Falmouth, there is confidence in tremendous growth in Express Catering's offering at SIA.

He also noted that Express Catering will be opening three Starbucks shops at SIA this year at a cost of some US$1.4 million.

This follows the announcement in May this year that world-famous Starbucks Coffee Company had entered a geographic licensing agreement with Caribbean Coffee Traders Ltd, a consortium led by Margaritaville Caribbean Group, a leading restaurant management and franchise operator in the Caribbean.

The agreement grants Caribbean Coffee Traders the exclusive rights to own and operate Starbucks stores in the country. Jamaica will be Starbucks 17th market in the Latin America and Caribbean region, with the first store slated to open in Montego Bay.

Starbucks stores in Jamaica will be operated by Caribbean Coffee Traders, a joint venture between Ian Dear, chief executive officer of Margaritaville Caribbean Group and Adam Stewart, who is deputy chairman and chief executive officer of Sandals Resorts International.

Margaritaville Caribbean Group currently operates restaurant, entertainment and tour concepts throughout the Caribbean, and provides complete, multi-branded food and beverage experiences for major Caribbean tourism hubs.

Margaritaville Caribbean Group's brand portfolio includes a diverse collection of proprietary brands, international franchises, casual dining concepts, themed bars, and popular quick-service restaurants. The group employs over 1,000 people throughout the region.

Under the offer being brokered by Mayberry Investments Ltd, Express Catering floated 327.5 million units — representing 20 per cent of its 1.63 billion shares. A tenth of the shares, 32.6 million units, were available for general public subscription at $1.50. The rest were reserved for key groups.

Express Catering was incorporated in June 2001. Ian Dear is a key shareholder and its chief executive officer.

The company runs a series of eateries at Sangster Airport, including Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, Starbucks, Quiznos, Dairy Queen, Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs, Domino's Pizza, Auntie Anne's Pretzels, Wendy's, Cinnabon, Moe's South Western Grill, Island Deli, Viva Fresh Market Grab & Go, Cricket Sports Bar, Connections Bar, Air Margaritaville Arrivals Bar, Jamaican Bobsled Cafe, The Groovy Grouper, and The Bar.

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