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Jamaica Teas looks to completion of expansion projects in 2021

TEA makers, Jamaica Teas Limited (JTL), in its quest for continued growth, said it will be seeking to complete several of its new and ongoing projects during the course of this financial year.

The company, in its recently published annual report to shareholders, said that the plan for its US$1-million factory expansion at Bell Road in Kingston was expected to get underway in April, with a nine-month timeline for completion of an additional 20,000 square feet of space. A $20-million expansion of its Harbour Street operation was also expected to give the company another 3000 square feet of warehousing space as the company increases production capacity.

“This should adequately accommodate raw materials and finished goods for new lines of products, as well as [for] increased demand for the company’s dynamic range of teas and groceries,” the report stated.

Additionally, the company’s Shoppers Delite supermarket – which is currently undergoing refurbishments along with the installment of new equipment to improve the shopping experience and provide extra warehousing space – is scheduled to be completed in March of this year. This, the company said, was being undertaken to the tune of some $50 million.

In its real estate arm, a new 18-bedroom development in the Belvedere, Red Hills area which began in October 2020 is expected to be completed in October of this year. The completion of these 18,653 square feet one-bedroom apartments, and seven 454 square feet studios follows the successful completion of another Violet Views construction project in the Manor Park area of Kingston, the sales proceeds from which, the company said, contributed to the group results in September 2020 of a gross profit of $48 million.

JTL, which was expected to deliver a strong finish for its 2020 financial year, last year saw exports increase by some 48 per cent year on year while domestic sales grew by 7 per cent – this as the company’s production of soups and seasonings continues to grow and attract new customers locally and overseas.

The tea producer-turned retailer and real estate developer, among other investment projects – despite a big jump in revenues which totalled $2.2 billion up from the $1.3 billion last year – also posted an almost $70-million loss on group activities for the year ended September 30,2020, largely due to weak performance from its QWI investment holding subsidiary.

“We sense that the economy could be recovering slowly from a sharp decline in 2020. The rebounding of the investment market augurs well, and our local investments have continued to recover their value in the first three months of the new financial year. This, along with good returns in the US market, is expected to further improve and contribute to our profits for the year,” the directors of the company forecasted, noting that “2021 could be a record-breaking year in terms of revenues and profit, with all major divisions contributing to an outlook for a strong financial year”.

The John Mahfood-led company, in its outlook, further said that during this year it would carefully monitor the available opportunities for real estate and financial investments so as to strengthen and diversify its revenue streams to the benefit of shareholders.