Wisynco Chips in 30% for JP snacks

JP Group partners with Wisynco Group

Observer writer

Thursday, April 18, 2019

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Jamaica Producers Group Ltd and Wisynco Group, announced a joint venture which sees Wisynco acquiring 30 per cent interest in JP Snacks Caribbean. JP Snacks is a subsidiary of Jamaica Producers and a holding company that will own the JP St Mary's brand and snack manufacturing operations.

Wisynco is set to invest $720 million for their 30 per cent interest, which values JP Snacks at $2.4 billion.

Chief Executive Officer of the Jamaica Producers Group, Jeffrey Hall, delivered the news in a brief press release on Wednesday.

“We looked at the opportunity for tropical snacks in the region but also internationally and said lets come together to win this game. I am very excited with that context to announce the decision to come together as a joint venture to build the JP St Mary's snack business (with Wisynco). The joint venture will be 70 per cent JP and we have the benefit of 30 per cent interest with Wisynco, and our goal is to give these Jamaican products to consumers everywhere…”

In an interview with the Jamaica Observer, Hall reiterated, “We have a strong brand, strong production, strong product development, and where we saw the opportunity was to make a step change in distribution effectiveness, and that is what we are going to work on intensely together,”

Hall hopes to stand on the values of both companies to forge the way forward. “The groups are well known, these groups are predominantly Jamaican-owned, and so the goal is to do this for Jamaica. We share a number of values — our numbers are open, we are public companies, widely held, we believe in integrity, we believe in transparency, we believe in having good products — and that's what motivates this deal.”

The partnership is a strategic merge where JP Snacks hopes to benefit from Wisynco's expertise in marketing, manufacturing and their vast local distribution network.

The business also hopes to see increased distribution in Jamaica, regionally in the Caribbean, the USA, Canada, the UK and Central America.

William Mahfood, chairman of Wisynco Group Limited sees the collaboration as not only beneficial for both companies but essential for the region.

“Jeffrey hit the nail on the head about teamwork, beyond even Jamaica as we look at a regional level, the role that companies like Jamaica producers and Wisynco has to play in terms of defining what success looks like regionally. This, along with other moves which both our companies are going to make in the future will be the platform for success at a regional level,” he said.

According to both men the initial idea for the project started at the end of last year, but went swiftly.

“The negotiation didn't take long, it was surprisingly very simple, because as Jeffrey indicated, we have very very similar values…” shared Mahfood.

He also shared his excitement at the potential of such a venture and his vision for the JP St Mary's brand to go far and wide.

He continued, “Today we all move forward with plans with distribution both locally and internationally, I'm really excited about the potential for this business. I see St Mary's banana chips being available all over the world one day, as a potential global brand, and the initiative that was started here, to roll that out beyond the Caribbean and beyond even the diaspora markets, for me that is where the long-term opportunities lie. For us Jamaica is a slam dunk on the distribution, so there are tremendous opportunities that we will in the very short term unlock in Jamaica and that's exciting.

“I'm really, really excited for the development of a global brand that we are both going to partner in,” Mahfood said.

Mahfood spoke directly to shareholders to assure them that this partnership also brings new opportunities for them.

“To our shareholders all over Jamaica who know will be able to partner with the finest water from under the earth and the finest tropical chips made and known to man, and as the two grow hand in hand we look forward to tremendous partnerships.”

In his interview with the Caribbean Business Report Hall echoed Mahfood's sentiments

“Our goal is to increase shareholder value, that's the core purpose of the deal.”

“If it's a good deal for JP and it's a good deal for Wisynco then all of the share-holders combined are going to see the benefit from the transaction,” continued Mahfood.

The flagship snacks for JP St Mary snacks will include its well-known banana chips, plantain chips and breadfruit and cassava chips. Their primary manufacturing operations will be in the Dominican Republic.

The Jamaica Producers Group, is a Jamaican-owned company with its primary businesses in food and logistics. Including the market-leading fresh juice manufacturer supplying Belgium, Holland, Scandinavia and other Northern European markets, according to the press release. They also operate a Jamaican-based bakery, which supplies Tortuga Rum Cakes to over 15 countries.

Wisynco is well known for its beverage products such as WATA, CranWATA and Bigga soft drinks and Boom energy drinks. The company is also the exclusive local bottler for Coca-Cola Company on the island as well as other third party beverage brands such as Squeezz and Hawaiian Punch and also distributes portfolios for Red Bull, Tru-Juice and Freshhh, Dr Pepper, Worthy Park Estate, Kellogg's, Nestle, General Mills and others according to the press release.

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