JP Targets Europe, Caribbean For Acquisitions

Jeffrey Hall, managing director of Jamaica Producers Group Limited, JPG, has hinted at two acquisitions that the company is looking to close in Europe and the Caribbean.

The conglomerate has been chasing leads since at least last year after selling a minority stake in its snack operation to Wisynco Group and contracting the consumer products company to distribute the St Mary’s brand.

“We have active acquisition targets both in the food and drink and the logistics and infrastructure business. For food and drink we have active targets in Europe and for the logistics and infrastructure business the target is in the Caribbean,” Hall told the Financial Gleaner following the company’s annual general meeting on Friday.

The multinational already operates businesses in Jamaica, the Caribbean and Europe.

The food and logistics conglomerate is looking to close at least one of the deals by year end, while it continues chasing other opportunities.

The acquisitions are to be paid for through “a combination of internal resources as well as debt financing,” Hall said.

Jamaica Producers holds cash of $1.1 billion and $5.4 billion in convertible securities that it can deploy for acquisitions.

Last year, JPG earned $ $2.7 billion of net profit from $$21.5 billion in revenue. For the March quarter, the company made a profit of $559 million from $5.1 billion in revenue.

It’s largest contributor to revenue and profits of the JP Food and Drink Division is Hoogesteger, a market leader in fresh juice in northern Europe, which serves as a co-packer of juice for major supermarket and food service companies in the Netherlands, Belgium, Scandinavia and Switzerland.

Kingston Wharves, the largest subsidiary in the JP Logistics and Infrastructure Division, operates a multipurpose shipping terminal in Kingston, and an integrated warehousing and logistics business.

JP trades goods and services in the region, including through JP Shipping, which operates logistics and shipping services between Caribbean ports and the United Kingdom.

Aside from the M&A prospects lined up, JP is also aiming to grow organically and is working internally on boosting sales through e-commerce, particularly in the packaged foods business.

The company also believes it can leverage more sales through supermarket channels among other linkages.

Since the pandemic, fresh fruits and vegetables have been in heavy demand by consumers who see them as a way to boost their immune systems and stave off the virus. That created an opening for JP’s pineapples.

“We’ve been marketing pineapples as a good source of vitamin C in response to the current environment. We participated in the farmers markets across the island and various e-commerce solutions domestically where customers have received boxes of produce,” Hall said.

The demand led to growth of 198 per cent in the company’s pineapple business year to date, while e-commerce sales for the business jumped 165 per cent largely attributable to the new strategies taken on by the company during the pandemic.

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