After delivering what its directors have labelled as a solid 2021 financial year, Seprod Limited said it remains bullish on the future of the business, particularly exports.
Chief executive officer (CEO) and Managing Director Richard Pandohie told shareholders at the company's 83rd annual general meeting on Monday that over the next few years, the intention is to double export volumes.
Overall export sales for the company during its last financial year were 21 per cent above that of the prior year. In individual markets, the export growth varied. For example, exports to the US grew 15 per cent. They were up 39 per cent to the Caribbean and 156 per cent for South America.
"With the reopening of countries, we expect a trajectory of doubling our export volume every three years. This is not a stretched target, but our basic expectation and it comprises our own brands and brands that we co-manufacture for other companies.
"We are increasingly becoming an important supply partner to many manufacturers in the region, in fact several manufacturers stayed afloat because we had the supply when they were unable to source it from Brazil or anywhere else," Pandohie said.
He further stated, "Our team based in the Dominican Republic has been working to enter the Central American and other Hispanic markets and I'm pleased to announce that we will start shipping products in October to new countries such as Guatemala."
The CEO said that despite what could arguably be categorised as both the best of times and the worst of times seen during an unprecedented history of global events, the manufacturing and distribution conglomerate remains steadfast in delivering much more value to shareholders. Management, he said, is optimistic that the acquisition of large Trinidadian distributor AS Bryden and Sons will not only help the company to double its revenue base but to also cement its footprint as a key regional player, providing access to markets in Trinidad, Barbados and Guyana. He updated that after some push-back in timelines, the delivery of its state-of-the-art distribution and logistics campus being constructed at Felix Fox Boulevard in Kingston is expected to go live as of next month.
The recent introduction of its Delite sorrel juice is also being used to target increased growth in Latin America, which the company said is almost eight times the size of the Caribbean Diaspora.
Pandohie, in outlining the challenges which included the novel coronavirus pandemic and its associated supply chain disruptions worsened by the Russia/Ukraine war along with a major fire at its Facey distribution warehouse late last year, said that despite the difficulties, the company was able to successfully come out with almost $2 billion in net profit and $43.8 billion in revenues at the end of its last financial year. Up to the end of the second quarter ended June 30, half-year profits for company stood at $1.6 billion from revenues of $27.8 billion.
"Despite not having the positive growth trajectory of previous years, the events of 2021, regardless of external events and a one-off traumatic event — the fire — we're solid! In terms of performance, we have had to accept that our world has changed and that what were aberrations before, are now part of our everyday reality and no longer suitable excuses for not delivering value, as this has become the reality of doing business today," Pandohie reasoned.
"While we are pleased with our progress, we are not at our destination — not by a long shot. The Seprod Group is at a good place and we've made meaningful progress in our transition from a local to a regional player. Over the next 12-18 months the focus will be on actualising growth and value which we will push via our key strategic drivers comprising greater technology implementation, innovation, exports and engaging best in class talents," he said.
"We're still a work in progress but we're on a journey, an exciting journey and it's a privilege for me to be working with a highly talented team," added Chairman PB Scott.