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Express Catering Limited signs three new franchises

Express Catering Limited (ECL), the largest food and beverage provider at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, Jamaica, has recently signed three new international franchises that will revamp the food court that is currently under development. 

The first is Bento, described as one of the largest sushi companies outside of Japan. 

“Bob Marley’s One Love will feature an authentic pimento wood-grill, fresh juices, sharing plates, Marley inspired photo ops and more”

ECL stated in its newly published annual report, “The brand’s on-site Bento chefs prepare a selection of sushi, bento boxes, ramen, poke bowls, and more. These fresh menu items can be enjoyed by guests onsite, or pre-packaged selections can be purchased at any of Express Catering’s Viva Grab and Go locations throughout the terminal.”

The second new franchise is Freshens, a “healthy ‘fresh casual’ concept, which serves signature smoothies and frozen yogurts alongside menu items with a focus on fresh and healthy options.

The third is Bob Marley’s One Love, described as a one-of-a-kind, Jamaican restaurant drawing inspiration from Jamaica’s vibrant culture, food, music and spirit of generosity. 

“Bob Marley’s One Love will feature an authentic pimento wood-grill, fresh juices, sharing plates, Marley inspired photo ops and more,” ECL stated

A long history in the fast food industry

Express Catering has been in operation since 2001, providing food and beverage for passengers as well as approximately 5,000 employees that work in the various support services at the airport. 

In 2011 the company successfully negotiated a long-term contract to manage and supply the majority of food and beverage offerings at the airport. 

Since then, ECL has been the dominant food and beverage partner of MBJ Airports Limited, operators of the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay. 

The company currently has exclusivity of food and beverage offerings for the post-security sections. It also has a significant share of the pre-security food and beverage offerings. 

Older franchises include  DQ Grill& Chill, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, Moe’s Southwest Grill, International Dairy Queen, Quiznos, Auntie Anne’s, Nathan’s Hot Dogs, Cinnabon, Wendy’s, Starbucks, and Domino’s. 

A Starbucks store in Express Catering’s portfolio of franchises
(Photo: Express Catering Limted)

ECL also manages local brands including Bobsled Café, Tastee Patties, Viva Gourmet, Grab N Go, and Groovy Grouper.

Up to the beginning of the fourth quarter, the company employed 305 staff.

Tied to tourism

According to ECL’s annual report, “Unfortunately, as the COVID-19 outlook became more uncertain, we had to make the difficult decision to reduce our staff complement in order to manage the cost outlays with the significantly reduced earnings.” 

Sangster International Airport, in Montego Bay, which is close to the growing tourism centres of Ocho Rios and Negril, continues to be the dominant entry point for visitors to the island. Of the 2.68 million stopover visitors in calendar 2019, 2.14 million or 79.74 per cent entered through the Sangster International Airport. 

The Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Kingston is the alternative point of entry for stopover visitors to the island. 

ECL said that construction work for the refurbishing of the central food court is ongoing and should be finished during the first half of calendar 2021. 

This work involves the relocation and rationalising of current offerings located in the existing food court as well as the addition of new brands to enhance the available choice to the traveling public. 

2020 financial performance

ECL is owned by  Margaritaville Caribbean Group Ltd (MCG), a Bahamian registered company which is  the franchise operator of the Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville Restaurant, Bar and Retail Shops across the Caribbean. 

Signage for Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville (File photo)

Revenue for Fiscal 2020 was US$14.0 million compared to US$17.3 million in the prior year, a US$3.3 million or 19.08 per cent decline. 

Net profit for the year was US$1.56 million compared to US$3.73 million in the prior year. 

Management commented, “The uncertainties relating to the scope of Covid-19 caused the company to incur excess cost during the last 2 months of the year when revenues were reduced to near zero.”

 The company declared and paid dividends of US$802,375 during the year.