GraceKennedy deems digital agenda successful
…Wehby says more to comeWednesday, November 24, 2021
HAVING launched its Digital Factory earlier in February of this year as the main driver of its broader digital strategy, GraceKennedy Limited (GK) has made moves to further build out its digital agenda.
Group CEO Don Wehby, during an investor briefing on Monday, said the digital transformation road map is in place for 2022, and shopping and e-commerce in its food trading divisions are “doing exceptionally well”.
“The trajectory of growth in [the foods] business is significant in terms of what we're seeing — and we're going to be investing heavily behind it. We see e-commerce in the food retail business as a great opportunity for our Diaspora. Our colleagues in Jamaica and our US business is a huge part of our growth strategy,” Wehby said, noting that its business, through US-based Instacart, grew by 85 per cent in 2021, when compared to the previous year.
GK's supermarket chain, Hi-Lo Food Stores has also entered the e-commerce arena with its new online grocery shopping platform, Hi-Lo Online.
Hi-Lo Online allows customers to purchase groceries wherever they are in the world and pay online using a debit or credit card. Shoppers can opt to collect their online order in store or kerbside, or have it delivered to their doorstep in Jamaica from select Hi-Lo locations.
“You have a relative in New York and they want to send some groceries? They can go online to order it, pay with debit or credit card, and give instructions to deliver it to family, friends or loved ones back hom — a potential game-changer for this industry,” Wehby said.
Customers can access the platform through its website or via the mobile app available on Google's Play Store and the App Store.
The CEO further indicated that through its Digital Factory, digital features and products currently in the 'sandbox' phase are expected to be launched in the first half of 2022 for its financial hub GK ONE.
This includes digital registration and know-your-customer requirements, an inbound and outbound Western Union remittances product, a digital wallet with a prepaid Visa card backed by First Global Bank (FGB), and a digital bill payment solution.
Wehby disclosed that the company has also created a special committee to focus on cross-selling within GK's ecosystem.
“In other words, if you go to First Global Bank and you borrow money at the lowest rate to buy your car, you can automatically insure your car using the GK ONE app. Or if you want to buy Grace stock with GK Capital you can ask your FGB manager or customer representative to buy the stock at GK Capital over the GK ONE app,” he explained.
“So the opportunities are so enormous and when you look at the ecosystem of GraceKennedy and our customer base… the potential is huge,” Wehby continued.
“Before [the novel coronavirus pandemic] we had all of these plans in place, but it has fast-tracked them and we put our resources behind it. When there is a crisis there is an opportunity, and that's why we're today feeling very proud of ourselves with Hi-Lo e-commerce and the digital factory being launched in record time,” the CEO said.
For the nine-month period ending September 2021, GK Limited generated $95.78 billion in revenue. The overall food trading segment earned $75.15 billion for the period under review, while its money services segment had an 11 per cent improvement to $7.22 billion. This was driven by the growth of remittance services in its key markets of Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana.
Its banking and investments segment saw revenue rise by 6 per cent to $4.96 billion as GK Capital Management Limited, GK Investments and First Global Bank experienced an increase in top and bottom line growth. Its insurance segment saw a 20 per cent jump to $8.45 billion as Key Insurance and GK General contributed to greater revenue growth.
The net profit attributable to owners for the nine months totalled $5.68 billion, which is $541 million shy of the $6.22 billion earned in 2020.