12 year-journey: Walkerswood ready to make creditor paymentsWednesday, October 13, 2021
CREDITORS of the Walkerswood Group, which participated in a scheme of arrangement for debt repayment in 2009, are being notified that additional payments will now be made as the company has achieved certain levels of profit, as agreed under the scheme, after a ten-year period.
Walkerswood became insolvent over a decade ago, not long after a significant factory upgrade at its plant in Walkerswood, St Ann. However, investors came together to create a road map for the company's recovery while at the same time satisfying creditors.
The scheme of arrangement under Section 206 of the Companies Act, 2004 between Walkerswood Partners Limited, its shareholders and creditors and Walkerswood Caribbean Foods Limited, Walkerswood Marketing Limited and Green Adventures Limited and their creditors, seeks to settle compromised debts.
Under the court-sanctioned scheme, as indicated in recent press notices, it was agreed that additional payments would be made to creditors if the reconstituted company achieved certain profit targets over a ten-year period from 2009.
The company indicates that the target was reached in 2019 and so there is now an amount to be distributed to creditors under the scheme.
Earlier reports note how a consortium of Jamaican firms, led by Associated Manufacturers Limited — which produces the Busha Browne and Jamaica Joe brands of condiments — offered to pay creditors of Walkerswood 25 cents on the dollar on more than $1 billion debt, under the court-approved scheme.
Under the deal, Walkerswood was to be merged with Associated Manufacturers, with the Walkerswood brand continuing production in the company's 42,000-square foot plant in Walkerswood, St Ann.
Associated Manufacturers' partner under the scheme was Pan-Jamaican Investment Trust Limited (Pan Jam).
At the time, it was indicated that the partners would invest up to US$8 million in Walkerswood, of which half would go to the company for continued operations and the other half to begin payments to creditors who were owed around US$14 million.
Listed among the creditors were National Commercial Bank, which in early 2005 made two loans to Walkerswood Partners to finance its St Ann plant which was new at the time.
Walkerswood faced this hiccup after building a reputation for agro-processing and rural employment. The 12-year period since then has been a fruitful journey for the company, it would appear.
Currently, the company's website indicates that Walkerswood Caribbean has been able tap markets in the Western Hemisphere and wider, with its over 20 products distributed in the USA, Canada, UK, New Zealand and the Caribbean.
Started in 1978, Walkerswood developed its own jerk seasoning and was the first company to export jerk seasoning from Jamaica. Products include Jerk Barbecue Sauce and Jonkanoo Pepper Sauce. The Jamaica Observer reached out for a company update on developments over the decade elapsed since 2009, but no response was received.