Walkerswood owner sees profit rise tenfold

Friday, May 09, 2014

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WALKERSWOOD sauce maker, New Castle Limited, reported a tenfold rise in profit to $81 million in 2013 based in part on rising exports.

It underscores the increasing importance of exports amid a tight local economy.

"The company continues to make progress with the production, distribution and export of Walkerswood, Busha Browne and Jamaica Joe lines of sauces and seasonings," said the management discussion in the Pan Jamaican Investment Trust (Pan Jam) annual report on its investment in New Castle. "Net profit increased significantly over prior year to $81.5 million ($8.18 million in 2012)."

The revenues at the company climbed 21 per cent to $450 million in the year under review. While its net assets totalled $949 million up from $892 million a year earlier.

The Facey-familly controlled Pan Jam group bought a 25 per cent stake in New Castle in 2009.

New Castle contributed just over three per cent of the $2.4 billion in total profit for Pan Jam. However, Pan Jam projects that
its contribution to grow with increased hard currency
export earnings. Key markets for Walkerswood exports include the Jamaican Diaspora in North America and Europe.

The Observer was unable to get Ian Garbutt, managing director at Associated Manufacturers Limited (AML), and Paul Hanworth, chief financial officer at Pan Jam, by phone up to press time.

In May 2009, a consortium including PanJam and AML, producers and local distributor of the Busha Browne and Jamaica Joe lines of sauces, jams and jellies agreed to a
court-approved, US$5 million debt restructuring rescue plan.

Walkerswood Group became insolvent after years of losses with some $375 million in negative working capital. The rescue plan pumped working capital into the company.

The buyout deal called for creditors to take as low as 25 cents on the dollar along with special redeemable preference shares through a Creditors' Trustee that would entitle them to receive 50 per cent of the consolidated annual net profits of the Walkerswood Group in excess of the first US$2 million for a period of 10 years.

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