Sean Scott will become Wisynco's deputy chief executive officer on August 24.

Former Wisynco Foods Limited Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sean Scott will be returning to Wisynco Group Limited on August 24 as its deputy CEO following his three-year stint at Canopy Insurance Limited as its CEO.

The announcement was made on the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) last week as the economic rebound domestically and abroad push the manufacturing and distribution company to its best performance in its 57-year history.

Scott previously led Wisynco Foods Limited from July 2011 at age 29 until his departure at the end of June 2018. Wisynco Foods was the quick-service division of the group that prepared and sold meals under the Wendy's and Domino's brands. This division was transferred to a separate legal entity ahead of Wisynco Group's December 2017 initial public offering (IPO). Scott also served as the head of strategy and special projects for the Wisynco Group.

Scott left the group to lead insurance start-up Canopy, which was launched in May 2019 as a joint venture of the GraceKennedy and Musson Group. He led the ordinary long-term insurance company which focused on group health insurance to scale as it grew from $442.68 million at the start of 2018 in total assets to $2.08 billion at the end of 2021. While Canopy hasn't achieved profitability as yet, its revenue has grown from $93 million in 2019 to $2.41 billion in 2021.

Wisynco Chairman William Mahfood at the company's first annual general meeting.

"Sean previously worked with a sister company that was associated through shareholdings and led the group's strategy. One of the concerns of the board and our good governance was the succession plan for the leadership of the group going forward, and so we have been working diligently to ensure that we had someone who shared our values and we feel has the ability to take the company to new heights into the future," said Wisynco Group Chairman William Mahfood in an e-mail to the Jamaica Observer.

Scott is the brother of Musson Group's Chief Investment Officer Nicholas Scott.

Mahfood was the managing director of the company from 1994 to 2014 before he took on his current role. His cousin, Andrew Mahfood, took over as CEO and continues to serve in this role today. Wisynco's Compensation and Corporate Governance Committee is chaired by consultant and leadership coach Lisa Soares Lewis, and has both Mahfoods, John Lee, Odetta Rockhead-Kerr and Adam Stewart as members of the committee.

When asked if the move indicates a possible changing of the guard with his cousin in short order, William responded, "Both Andrew and I are still fairly young and don't intend to leave anytime soon; however, it is only good practice to have the people in place for any eventuality."

William will be 56 in November while Andrew is currently in his 50s. While William did not indicate a timeline for the possible ascension of Scott, he did speak highly of his executive background, education and familiarity with the business. He also indicated that succession planning with younger executives was a critical element in moving the company forward.

Tania Waldron Gooden was appointed deputy CEO for Caribbean Assurance Brokers Limited in October 2020 and took over as CEO in January 2022 to replace Raymond Walker who remains chairman of the board.

Wisynco's full-year 2022 audited financials are due by August 29 under JSE rules. The company's unaudited nine months performance up to March showed revenue moving up 20 per cent to $28.40 billion over the prior 2021 period. Net profit come in 34 per cent higher at $2.96 billion.

Wisynco's highest revenue base of $32.17 billion was achieved in the 2020 financial year, which included the novel coronavirus pandemic and the closure of its Styrofoam plant under the Government of Jamaica's ban on the production and sale of the product. Its highest year of profitability came in 2019 when it hit $2.93 billion.

This means that the company's 2022 financial year is expected to be its best post-IPO year on record. The first three quarters saw Wisynco's exports grow at double digits, the opening of its 26,000-square-foot warehouse facility in Hague, Trelawny, and announcement to execute one project valued between US$20 – $30 million ($3.15 – $4.73 billion) in the beverage machinery segment. The fourth quarter also saw the removal of the Disaster Risk Management Act and removal of curfews which hampered the activity of the entertainment sector and nightlife.

The company has been able to mitigate passing on significant price increases to its customers for manufactured products due to its two-megawatt (MW) liquefied natural gas (LNG) power-generating plant and high operating efficiency. However, it has had to increase payments to drivers who distribute the various brands across the country as oil prices shot past US$100 and other key inputs started to be impacted by supply chain disruptions.

Although the country is still rebounding, Mahfood is confident that the state of the tourism sector — which he described as having strong demand — will require greater planning to satisfy the various hotels and other associated entities.

Air traffic coming through the Sangster International Airport surpassed pre-COVID levels in June with July seeing 430,300 terminal passengers passing through. Even Nasdaq-listed Playa Hotels and Resorts described Jamaica as its best-performing segment in terms of occupancy rate in the second quarter at 76.2 per cent, which is a post-pandemic high. The country is also seen as leading the way in the group for bookings in 2023 in recent months.

"Generally, the outlook is good. Tourism is rebounding and as a matter of fact, I think these past couple of months have been one of the best summers in Jamaica's history in tourism. Most of the hotels are at full capacity," Mahfood closed.

Wisynco's stock price hit a 52 week high of $26.90 on May 5, but has descended to $17.06, which leaves it only up two per cent year to date from the $16.70 price it started 2022. Its price to earnings ratio is at 16.73 times based on its trailing 12-month earning of $1.02 per share. The company's market capitalisation is at $65.10 billion with shareholders receiving a $0.20 dividend on August 4. Wisynco's cash pile stood at $8.60 billion at the end of March with total assets and shareholders' equity at $24.33 billion and $17.42 billion, respectively.

Wisynco Group's headquarters in Lakes Pen, St Catherine.
BY DAVID ROSE Observer business writer davidr@jamaicaobserver.com

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