(Photo: Business View Caribbean)

Jamaica’s SOS on the lookout for new Caricom export markets

(Photo: Business View Caribbean)

After having a stellar year of growth in 2019, which included an increase in its exports throughout the Caribbean region, Jamaica’s Stationery and Office Supplies (SOS) Limited had plans to surpass the achievements of the previous year.

In its 2019 Annual Report, Chairman of SOS Ltd David McDaniel explained, “We tasked ourselves with expanding into foreign markets this year and so we made even greater effort to develop relationships with distributors in the Caribbean. All these efforts paid off as we were able [to] export six containers of various products throughout the region.”

It seemed that the company was on target to outperform last year’s results at the end of Q1 2020 when posting it’s third-best first-quarter results earlier this year. And with a shipment of its goods to Grenada that boosted sales for the quarter, the company had its sights set on other export markets. However, those plans were derailed as the coronavirus became more widespread and threatened the closure of several businesses.

Within financial year 2019, Stationery and Office Supplies Limited exported six containers of its good to various territories in the Caribbean and in January the company shipped a container to Grenada. (Photo: Twitter @LLoydsLoading)

High hopes for 2020

According to McDaniel, “As we moved into 2020, we had high hopes that we would again record figures for the business’ performance. However, COVID-19 started to redirect our plans as our international suppliers were in the height of the pandemic and were not able to fulfil our supply needs.”

Nevertheless, the chairman pointed out that the pandemic did not dampen the company’s ability to supply the demand in the local market. To this end, the it has looked beyond Jamaica’s borders to satisfy export needs.

But SOS Managing Director Allan McDaniel told Caribbean Business Report that, “We continue to have discussions with potential distributors but the COVID-19 virus has put those talks on hold for now.”

Managing Director of Stationery and Office Supplies Allan McDaniel (Photo: Stock Glitter)

To date, SOS has exported to St Lucia, Barbados, St Kitts-Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, and Grenada — and there are other Caricom countries in which the company hopes to expand its footprint in the near future.

Among the products the company now exports are SEEK notebooks and both Torch- and Image-branded furniture. In particular, the managing director also informed Caribbean Business Report that the company could customise the notebooks to suit any market to which it exports.

In fact, just two years ago after acquiring the brand of notebooks from manufacturer Book Empire for JM$60 million, the company has begun making office notebooks and notepads. What’s more, the acquisition has improved the company’s revenues year-on-year, according to the 2019 Annual Report.

SEEK Notebooks on display on an office desk. (Photo: Buzz Caribbean)

On the matter of exports to Latin America and Jamaica’s three major trading partners — USA, the United Kingdom and Canada — Allan McDaniel revealed that the company has no intentions to export to any of those markets at this time.