BY JULIAN RICHARDSON Assistant business co-ordinator email@example.com
CARIBBEAN conglomer-ate GraceKennedy Group posted solid earnings in the 2012 financial year, growing annual net profits by 28 per cent to $3.8 billion.
Total revenues were five per cent higher in 2012 at $61.3 billion, with sales up across all the group's major segments — food trading, retail and trading, banking and investments, insurance, and money services. But pre-tax profit increased marginally to $4.1 billion during the year compared to 2011.
GraceKennedy Group CEO Don Wehby said it was "both a challenging year and a year of achievement" for the company, which over the year concentrated on growing its international footprint, innovation to drive revenue growth, managing costs and better capital management.
The flagship food trading division increased sales by six per cent to $40.5 billion over the year under review, with the company reporting "creditable growth" in North America, Europe and Africa.
Grace intends to earn a half of its profit from outside of Jamaica as it moves to become a global consumer group within the next seven years. Last year the company expanded on the African continent, where the goal is to make 15 per cent of its revenue by 2020. It also increased its shareholding in its Central American subsidiary, GraceKennedy (Belize) Limited.
Revenues in the retail and trading segment were up three per cent to $6.3 billion; banking and investments by two per cent to $5.4 billion; insurance segment by six per cent to $5 billion; and money sevices by seven per cent to $4.8 billion.
The year under review saw GraceKennedy seeking to get its financial services closer to customers, including the implementation of a new banking rewards programme and the opening of its new Financial Services Centre in downtown Kingston, with branches of subsidiary companies First Global Bank, First Global Financial Services and Jamaica International Insurance Company.
GraceKennedy's total expen-ses were up by six per cent to $58.2 billion in 2012.
Earnings per share increased by $2.19 to $10.52. Grace-Kennedy Group CFO Frank James advised that the board of directors on 26th February 2013 declared a dividend of 70 cents per stock unit.
"This represents an increase of just over 16 per cent on the dividend declared in Q1 of 2012," he said, adding "We are ensuring that we remain focused on growth, while increasing dividends for our shareholders."
GraceKennedy tied with the Hendrickson family for the Observer Business Leader Award Corporate in December, recognised for their continued contribution to the economy since Independence.
Wehby said that the firm expects 2013 to be another "challenging year" but noted that the company sees the challenges "... as opportunities, and stepping stones to GraceKennedy's achievement of its vision of becoming a global consumer group".
Wehby added: "We are focused on growth organically through acquisition and merger opportunities, and have the team and infrastructure with the appropriate risk mitigation in place to achieve our goals."