Business

For JP, 2014 is about brand push and new products

Sunday, July 06, 2014    

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JAMAICA Producers Group (JP) will launch a series of chips, coffees and juices destined for Latin America this year.

The new products aimed to boost foreign exchange earnings, although the company already earns four-fifths of its income externally.

"We are launching a new snack brand in the Dominican Republic which will be a full product range," Jeffrey Hall, managing director at JP group, told the Observer "We are also expanding in Central America -- Panama. We also spoke about new products in the Jamaican snack business.

"I expect to grow our export business — I expect double-digit growth."

The St Mary's brand in addition to its regional expansion will offer new packaging and launch niche snacks including sweet potato chips and chili chips.

The Tortuga brand will see new rum confectionery and increased exposure in US retail outlets.

Mavis Bank will launch an own estate coffee (rather than solely buying from contracted farmers). It will also launch a new instant coffee called True Brew.

In Europe, the Hoogesteger brand will launch high anti-oxidant 'super' green juices and expand into new markets in that territory.

"We are creating a specialty foods group to aggressively grow our other business which has tentacles in coffee snacks and rum-cakes," Hall told the Observer following the annual general meeting held at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston on Thursday.

Hall's presentation to shareholders described the group as operating under two main divisions -- that of JP Foods and JP Land & Sea.

The traditional segments of JP Europe, JP Tropical and Corporate remained for first-quarter reporting but Hall wanted shareholders to view the group more generally.

Calls for clarity from Hall on whether the segment results would eventually shift to reflect the two divisions went unanswered up to press. JP acquired stakes in coffee, confectionery and logistics within the last two years.

"Another way to look at our business is food business and non-food business. Essentially we took a look at the food and non-food opportunities within our business and concluded that in line with [our growth] policy we have associated ourselves with the logistics infrastructure programme and pumped $2 billion into that project [acquisition of 30 per cent stake in Kingston Wharves]," he said."We have already put money into Mavis Bank which is an export business.

"We have put money into JP Tropical which is an import substitution business and put money into Tortuga which is a tourism-related business. So we are very much addressing the economic realities with very aggressive tactics."

JP group earned 80 per cent of its $7.7 billion in annual revenues from outside the island. Euro earnings account for 60 per cent, Jamaican dollar earnings account for 20 per cent, US dollars and Pound Sterling account for roughly 10 per cent each.

JP earned $35 million in net profit for the first quarter 2014 on $1.96 billion in revenues. That was less profit than the $85 million earned on $1.86 billion in revenues made a year earlier.

Hall blamed the fall in profit on timing issues regarding its seasonal promotions in Europe and challenges in the Jamaican market.

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