Wray & Nephew commits over $500 million to support Appleton communities


Wray & Nephew commits over $500 million to support Appleton communities

Sunday, August 02, 2020

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FARMERS and communities impacted by the closure of the Appleton sugar factory will benefit from an assistance programme worth over $500 million from parent company, J Wray & Nephew (JWN) Limited.

The intervention programme will be spread over a three-year period, beginning in August 2020 and ending in 2023.

In a statement Friday, J Wray & Nephew said it was fully conscious of the dislocation the closure of the Appleton sugar factory would have on the communities that have benefited directly and indirectly from the operations of the plant for over a century.

Consequently, the company has apportioned a significant budgetary allocation to assist with immediate concerns and an orderly transition to more economically viable options such as cash crops, supplemented with a major thrust towards entrepreneurial training.

JWN's support will comprise several infrastructural projects; land transfer to employees and other settlers on the Appleton Estate; establishment of a scholarship trust to provide financial support for the students of the affected families; funding of an employee transition assistance project; and a partnership with the Sydney Pagon High School to create a mini agro-processing facility in the area. The latter will allow for crops such as breadfruit to be dried, milled, packaged and stored, and will be a game changer in transitioning the sugar-dependent belt to more economically viable crops.

In the short term, J Wray & Nephew through its JWN Foundation will implement several social intervention programmes, delivery of care packages to individuals in the affected communities, and will provide back-to-school readiness support to schools for the 2020-2021 academic year.

J Wray Nephew's Chairman Clement “Jimmy” Lawrence said, “Although the company has halted sugar cane processing at the Appleton factory, our commitment to the community will not waver. Indeed, we are deeply invested and remain the largest employer in the area through the Joy Spence Appleton Estate Rum Tour (JS-AERE) and the Appleton Estate distillery, which remain open. We will therefore continue to provide technical and financial support to various social causes, projects and initiatives that aim to empower the residents.

“Our relationship with the people of Siloah, Thornton, Balaclava and Maggotty continues,” said Lawrence. “We will be moving to secure people's homes with a land titling project and secure their livelihood with land grants. Additionally, we will be undertaking several social intervention projects such as hosting a back-to-school fair, undertaking bartending training through the JWN Academy and, in collaboration with our tourism partners, we will hold training and certification for tourism jobs, as well as broader economic support initiatives.”

Continuing Lawrence said, “By supporting the impacted communities in the transition from sugar cane cultivation, it is our hope to better enable the residents to capitalise on the economic and social opportunities that will arise, and to improve earning potential, and empower and educate the next generation.”

J Wray & Nephew Limited is also moving to ease the transition of the 370 third-party cane farmers who normally supply the Appleton sugar factory with cane by providing more than $200 million in direct and indirect support. The company has stated that it will provide a transportation subsidy of $75 million per year for the next three years to allow for sugar cane to be taken from the Siloah sugar belt to Frome in Westmoreland.

To demonstrate its seriousness J Wray & Nephew has already written off the balance of a $42 million loan to cane farmers made in 2016.

The company stated that despite the losses it will continue to provide support, as it is committed to living its core values.

In an earlier news release J Wray & Nephew Limited stated that management of the farm will be divested to a third-party company with knowledge of sugar operations and which will re-employ a significant number of the 370 employees impacted. The employees will be afforded generous separation packages and additionally, there are plans to alleviate the impact on third-party farmers.

See pages 22&23 for additional reporting on sugar

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