May 30, 2018
Grace Kennedy (GK) Annual General Meeting(AGM) was held today May 30, 2018, which coincidentally marks the day Douglas Orane-former Chairman of GK- permanently retired from GK’S board of directors. In the words of current Chairman, The Hon. Gordon Shirley, “he has serve the Company with great distinction and has made an extra-ordinary contribution to shape and strengthen the governance structure of the board.” Today marked exactly 30 years since Mr. Orane joined the GK team, having joining the company May 30, 1985.
Donald Wehby, CEO of the GraceKennedy Group highlighted the performance of the Company over the last financial year, and hinted at strategies the Group wishes to employ going forward. He believes that GK is living up to it vision of being a “Global Consumer Group”, pointing out that at the end of FY 2017, GK generated 60% of its revenue outside of Jamaica; while foreign market contribute 50% of the Group’s profit. A break out of the figures regionally reveals revenue growth over the 2012-2017 period as follows:
- Jamaica 17.5%
- UK & Europe 49.5%
- North America 207.7%
- Caribbean 88%
- Africa 200%
The Group witnessed improvements in all segments of it business with the exception of Insurance. However, Mr. Wehby pointed to the proper risk management structure that was put in place by its insurance team as the Group was able to sustain the string of hurricanes that hit the Caribbean. For the company to withstand the two category 5 hurricane hitting Dominica and Turks and Caicos, this “showed that our risk management system is robust and is working.” Mr. Wehby further assure shareholder at the meeting that, “our reinsurance program was “A” class and we paid our customers on time.”
The Food Trading profit was up 17% for the financial year 2017. This as the GK Group remained the market leader in the majority of core product it markets. The temporary ban on corn beef impacted the Company some JMD$500 million in revenue. However, out of challenges comes innovation, GK’s CEO unveiled a new type of corn beef that was manufactured locally. However, he made clear, that it will take a national effort to make such venture commercially viable. Also in response to the wave of health consciousness infecting the younger generation, GK took the initiative to reduce the sugar content of it Tropical Rhythm drinks by 65%. Sales has since increased by double digit.
According to Mr. Wehby, vast opportunities exist in the financial service segment as some 33% and 34% of Jamaicans are underserved and unserved respectively. He intends to unleash GK’s competitive advantage of having 143 locations island-wide to take advantage of this opportunity. GK-One is the concept of offering full financial service to customer in one single location. This is a one stop shop where custormers can do banking, insurance, and cambio services all in one location. Four location are already established, and GK’s objective is to increase this to 50 within 2 years.
The Group’s new headquarter located in Downtown Kinston, is more than fifty percent complete and will be the location for next year’s Annual General Meeting as promised by Mr. Wehby.
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