Business

Wisynco plans landmark US$8M investment in new beverage plant

Targets Caribbean, US and European markets

BY KARENA BENNETT
Business reporter
bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, September 17, 2017



Manufacturing and distribution company, Wisynco, on Friday opened its new distribution centre after fire gutted its Lakes Pen, St Catherine warehouse last May causing damage of $2 billion.

The new warehouse, branded the Sam Mahfood Distribution Centre in dedication to one of Wisynco's founders, is expected to improve efficiency from increases in loading dock space and bulk-racking density. The warehouse also features an early suppression fast-response fire system to minimise the likelihood of another fire at the facility.

Chief Executive Officer Andrew Mahfood anticipates that the US$2 million ($2.6 billion) investment in the 360,000-square-foot distribution centre will further position the company to move aggressively after the export market.

In fact, Wisynco plans to build a new beverage plant valued at US$8 million over the next six months to increase production numbers by 50 per cent as the company seeks to take on the Caribbean.

“We're talking about one of the biggest investments as a company as a single investment in manufacturing ever in our history. The investment is committed to and the installation of that manufacturing by January 2018 and should be fully operational by February,” Chairman William Mahfood told the Jamaica Observer.

Manufacturing capacity for the company stands at just over 20 million cases per year. The company has also started work on the construction of a 25,000-square-foot cold storage facility. Both facilities are expected to add at least 50 new employment opportunities.

“Over the years, the problem for us has been every time we increased capacity we have found that we kept selling everything we produced locally. The market just keeps growing.

“With this expansion we feel that there will be an opportunity for us to develop the export market. For the water business we feel that there is a big opportunity in the Caribbean. Trinidad has shipped water everywhere else in the Caribbean and we have played second fiddle. Now we feel that we can compete against Trinidad in the rest of the Caribbean,” Mahfood told Sunday Finance.

In addition to Trinidad, the company is also looking to build capacity of its Tru-Juice brand for export to the United States and European markets.

“Negotiations are going very well. Last month I was in the UK, met with some distributors and customers, and they are very happy with the products,” he said.

The Sam Mahfood Distribution Centre stands 100,000 square feet larger than the previous facility. Outside of the precautionary system, Wisynco has also implemented an automated inventory and order-picking system, more efficient layout with flexible work stations and a 20 per cent increase in illumination with state-of-the-art LED high-bay lights that will reduce the company's electricity bill by 30 per cent.

Investment in the new facility was partially financed by insurance payout for the fire as well as bank debt.

After the fire, the company was forced to set up multiple locations, one of which was an old garment factory in Spanish Town, St Catherine.

Wisynco is one of Jamaica's largest manufacturers and distributors, employing about 2,000 people. The company imports brands of foods, beverages, and paper products, and manufactures Bigga, Wata, CranWata, and Boom beverages as well as synthetic packaging products. Wisynco also owns franchises for Wendy's, Haagen-Dazs and Domino's pizza restaurants located island-wide.

Today, the company distributes 110 brands with more than 4,000 different products including beverages, and grocery and synthetic items.

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