Business

Jamaican Teas' third housing project to be located in Manor Park

Beverage maker to start selling tea made from wonder plant — moringa

Friday, May 30, 2014    

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JAMAICAN Teas plans to develop an upscale residential complex in Manor Park, St Andrew, which will become its third real estate development.

The beverage brand also announced plans to start selling moringa tea after securing several thousand pounds of the wonder plant.

The company, listed on the Jamaica Stock Exchange Junior Market, will develop the land following completion of its second real estate venture in St Thomas.

"We acquired a lot of land last year in St Andrew around the Manor Park area," said director John Jackson in the capacity of chairman at the annual general meeting on Bell Road, Kingston, on Wednesday. "That lot is slated for an apartment complex once we have completed or substantially completed our St Thomas development."

The St Thomas development should begin in June with apartment sales slated for 2015 or 2016. The project entails building 71 two-bedroom homes on 11 acres.

Jamaican Teas completed its first real estate development during its 2013 financial year building 18 super studio apartments at Kingsway Avenue in Kingston. The company encountered red tape, hefty legal and banking fees, which ameliorated the profit on sale.

The Kingsway project was brought to market by H Mahfood & Sons Limited, a subsidiary of Jamaican Teas. The apartments reportedly sold quickly at between $10.5 to $11.9 million, financials indicated.

The company surpassed the $1-billion mark in revenues for the first time in 2013. In fact the company's export earnings increased to $293 million or 51 per cent of sales from manufacturing operations. About half of its export sales go to the Caribbean while North America accounts for the remainder.

Jamaican Teas CEO John Mahfood told shareholders of the importance of export-led growth in a contractionary local market.

"What is happening in Jamaica with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Government and so on [will] make Jamaica a poorer place. People are going to be poorer," said Jackson. "The point is that there is such a gap between import and exports and that the gap can only be cut, in the IMF's view, by making us poorer.

"So we cannot import because Jamaica is not in a position in the short term to export more. So if the dollar goes to $150 to US$1 we are not going to export that much more."

Jamaican Teas recently sent samples of its products to Walmart in Guatemala in furtherance of its drive to grow exports.

"I believe in four years we will face a very hard time and small companies like us can only succeed if we are able to export," stated Mahfood who then listed prohibitive costs associated with exports. "Exporting more is not easy. To attend the trade shows in Guatemala to see Walmart cost US$15,000 per trip and it doesn't guarantee that you will succeed. We advertised in TIME magazine this month, and for a little ad it cost us over $2 million."

During the financial year the company documented the movement into its new factory at 2 Bell Road in Kingston. The cost of the building along with planned improvements cost some $140 million.

Jamaican Teas also expects to make a small profit at its Savanna-La-Mar supermarket based on recently securing a cambio licence.

The company owns Carmen's Court, in Kingston, as part of its real estate developments, as well as JRG Shoppers' Delite Limited, which operates a supermarket in Kingston and another in Savanna-La-Mar, Westmoreland, and Bay City Foods Limited, a 49 per cent owned associated company, operators of a supermarket in Montego Bay.

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