New entrant to Jamaica's cement marketWednesday, October 13, 2021
A new player, WT Limited, is about to enter Jamaica's cement market but questions surround how soon the company will seek another licence to import cement.
The Jamaica Observer can confirm that the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce has granted approval for an import licence to WT Limited, which trades under the name of Growth Tech Special Projects. The licence covers the importation of 50,000 metric tonnes of Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC) from Turkey.
The amount is to be imported in several batches over time. Currently there are two importers of cement in the island — CEMEX (Caribbean Cement Company) and The Buying House Cement Limited, a backup supplier of cement during the peak demand months.
Caribbean Cement is also the sole manufacturer of cement but a portion of the market is supplied from imports. In the immediate instance, WT Limited — a company founded by Garth Walker, Ryan Reid and Neil Lawrence in 2017 — is seeking to become another backup supplier to the local market.
When contacted by the Business Observer, Walker was hesitant in speaking about the company's future plans in the cement business, stating that it is watching to see how its plans play out first before making any long term commitment. “We have applied and gotten a licence to import 50,000 metric tonnes and we will see how that goes before making another attempt at getting another import licence,” Walker explained.
The Observer pressed Walker to find out whether this expected cement supply is only to meet the under-served demand now in the local market or whether there is a strategy in place to make a permanent stay in the cement business but he would not be dragged into making any firm commitment on the company's future.
“Lets wait and see how it goes,” was all Walker was willing to say about the future. The award of the import licence to WT Limited/ Growth Tech Special Projects comes on the heels of an announcement by Carib Cement that as part of its growth strategy it plans to upgrade the capacity of its cement production plant located in Rockfort by 30 per cent. The local cement industry has been mostly self-sufficient over the years but with the increased demand, other players such as WT Limited/ Growth Tech Special Projects are expected to enter the market.
Carib Cement Rockfort plant upgrade will enable the company to push cement production capacity from 1.0 million tonnes to close to 1.4 million tonnes a year.