KLE earnings compressed as COVID-19 fallout rages on


KLE earnings compressed as COVID-19 fallout rages on

Observer business writer

Friday, November 27, 2020

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With in-person dining limited and no event permits being issued in Jamaica, KLE Group Limited's earnings continue to deteriorate with its third-quarter results revealing a 564 per cent increase in net losses to $20.7 million.

As operators of the Usain Bolt Tracks and Records (UBTR) brand, KLE has had mixed fortunes with the franchise business over the last nine years of operations. The company, which listed on the Jamaica Stock Exchange's junior market in 2012, has only managed to set up one international franchise in the United Kingdom and acquired the Montego Bay location from local businessman Christopher Issa in January. There has been no additional disclosure on the Toronto and Florida franchise plans by the company.

Since the emergence in Jamaica of COVID-19, the two UBTR locations have struggled to generate revenue with both locations only bringing in $35.1 million since March compared to the $101.1 million generated from the Marketplace restaurant in the prior period. The major pivot for the UBTR has been the use of delivery services by Quickplate and 7Krave to shore up operations. The overall loss for the nine months currently stands at $64.4 million, which is the worst-performing year for the company.

KLE has also been unable to organise the SPF party series which typically attract thousands of patrons on a yearly basis. The Sumfest Acoustic Cafe franchise concept has yet to gain significant traction and is unlikely to do so as firms reconsider the operating style of restaurant businesses.

The major benefit that has been derived for the group so far is the approval of the US $22-million Bessa Villas Project by the St Mary Parish Council in the second quarter. The 88-villa joint venture with Sagicor and other investors is currently accounted for as a $13-million investment on the balance sheet.

Although KLE hasn't disclosed any new plans for the future of the company, its annual report had indicated that the company intended to engage in a significant capital raise to start some of its projects. Cash and cash equivalents for the company currently stand at $1.7 million with an $11.4-million bank overdraft. KLE has remained critical on managing costs which included staff and salary cuts to deal with the decline in business. The company took out a US$700,000-related party loan in January to fund the acquisition of the Montego Bay location which brought the total assets up to $272.1 million.

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