Business

Neal & Massy attributes 'devaluation, disappointing performance' to earnings decline in Jamaica

Records growth in all other territories

BY STEVEN JACKSON Business writer jacksons@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, January 10, 2014    

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TRINIDAD-based conglomerate, Neal & Massy Holding Ltd posted higher annual profits across all territories except Jamaica, due in part to devaluation.

It highlights the impact of currency depreciation on big business.

The island, affected by austerity, saw its currency lose nearly 15 per cent in value against the US dollar over the 2013 calendar year. Consequently, the group's Jamaica operations earned TT$37 million (J$610 million) for the year ending September 2013 or 23 per cent less year on year.

The Jamaica operations, which include Gas Products Limited, HD Hopwood & Company Limited (a division of NMH Trading & Distribution Jamaica Limited), Illuminat Limited and Magna Rewards earned just four per cent of profits for the conglomerate.

"Healthy growth was delivered in all of the territories in which the group operates, with the lone exception being Jamaica. Currency devaluations and disappointing performance by NMH Trading & Distribution Ltd, led to a decline in earnings from that territory," indicated chairman Arthur Lok Jack in his notes accompanying the financials.

HD Hopwood, a major distributor of pharmaceutical products and consumer goods, made the positions of 70 workers redundant in October.

Jamaica earned TT$635.2 million or 5.1 per cent less revenue for the year.

Neal & Massy started operations in 1923 and celebrated its 90th anniversary. The group's segments include automotive and industrial equipment; energy and industrial gas; food; financial property; and information technology and communications. The group earned TT$611 million in after-tax profit from continuing operations or 12 per cent higher.

The group also operated the Almond brand of hotels, amongst the largest in Barbados, which are sold in part due to the economic slowdown in that nation.

"In December 2013, after the end of Financial Year 2013, the sales of both Almond Beach Village and Almond Casuarina hotels were closed. This marks the end of the restructuring arising from the acquisition of Barbados Shipping & Trading Company Ltd (BS&T) and the fallout of the global financial crisis of 2009. All properties have been sold, Almond Resorts Inc and Casuarina Beach Club Limited will be wound up and liquidated," stated Lok Jack in the financial notes.

Throughout 2013, the group stated that it made major strides in implementing its post recession strategy.

"Its business units successfully executed acquisitions, such as Caribbean Insulation Services Limited, implemented innovative retail concepts, initiated projects to expand into new sectors such as petrochemicals, and launched new products and services. Furthermore, the group made good progress in diversifying into new territories in Central and Latin America with specific acquisitions currently underway," indicated Lok Jack.

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