The shareholders of Tortuga CRC Jamaica Ltd, Tortuga Rum Company Ltd of the Cayman Islands, Tortuga Imports Inc, of Miami, Florida, and Tortuga Barbados/Baker's Choice have consolidated their regional interests into a new international food group — Tortuga International Holdings, Limited.
At the same time, Jamaica Producers Group Ltd (JP), an established international specialty foods group, has made a strategic investment in Tortuga International which is expected to make Tortuga a truly global brand.
The founders of Tortuga Imports Inc will lead the new company with Marcus Simmonds as chief executive officer and Monique Hamaty-Simmonds the chief marketing officer for Tortuga International. The board of Tortuga International Holdings includes representatives from each of its operating subsidiaries in Cayman, Miami and Barbados as well as Jamaica Producers Group.
Founded in 1925, JP is a vertically integrated, international food company with operations in agriculture, manufacturing, marketing and distribution. Though its subsidiaries and associated companies, JP operates the leading processor of Blue Mountain coffee, the leading producer of fresh juice in The Netherlands and Jamaica's leading producer of tropical snacks.
The company's specialty food brands include JP (fresh produce), St Mary's (tropical snacks), Hoogesteger (fresh juice), and Jablum (coffee). It is a publicly traded company on the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE).
"We are very excited about this partnership and adding the Tortuga brand to our portfolio," said Jeffrey Hall, managing director of Jamaica Producers Group. "Having Marcus and Monique as shareholders and managers gives this new business the solid foundation needed to take Tortuga global."
Tortuga International Holdings Ltd now owns the Tortuga intellectual property rights (the brand, including cake and rum), recipes, bakeries, international marketing rights and other properties associated with the previous entities.
"Merging our companies and partnering with Jamaica Producers is a vital step to achieving our vision for Tortuga to become a $100-million global brand," said Marcus Simmonds. "This gives us economies of scale to have a much greater impact in developing the business. Having a well-established partner like Jamaica Producers further enhances our capacity to build and manage distribution of the Tortuga brand throughout the world."
In 1984, while employees of Cayman Airways, Robert and Carlene Hamaty started the Tortuga Rum Company to introduce the first private labelled rums for the Cayman Islands. A few years later, they opened their first duty free liquor store and introduced the Tortuga Rum Cake, made from Tortuga gold rum and a generations-old recipe in Carlene's family.
The Hamatys continue to own Tortuga Liquors, their wholesale and retail liquor distribution business in Grand Cayman, and are shareholders in Tortuga International.
In 1997, Robert's daughter, Monique Hamaty-Simmonds, and her husband Marcus founded Tortuga Imports Inc in Miami to bring Tortuga's "authentic taste of the Caribbean" to North America. The couple has won numerous accolades, including recently being honoured as finalists for the 2010 Jamaica Observer Business Leader Awards which recognised successful entrepreneurs in the Jamaican diaspora. Their company has been named to the INC 5000 list of fastest growing US private businesses for four consecutive years.
The Miami subsidiary will continue doing business as the Tortuga Rum Cake Company, handling worldwide distribution, supply chain management and procurement. As part of the restructuring, previous franchise operations will become wholly owned subsidiaries of Tortuga International.
"This is an exciting time for our family businesses," says Monique Hamaty-Simmonds. "By joining with Jamaica Producers we can accomplish our long-term goals and take the Tortuga brand to new heights. Now we just need to turn our vision into reality and bring our 'authentic taste of the Caribbean' to markets around the world."
The Tortuga brand is well-known by the more than 20 million annual Caribbean tourists and cruise ship passengers. Tortuga Caribbean Rum Cakes are the Number One export of the Cayman Islands and named the 2011 "Best Cruise Souvenir" by Porthole Cruise Magazine for the seventh consecutive year. Tortuga products are sold in gift and specialty food departments and gourmet stores throughout the Caribbean and North America and in onboard gift shops of over 100 cruise ships.