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Seprod pushes for greater export growth in 2021

In an effort to maintain the growth acquired since the novel coronavirus pandemic, food manufacturer and distribution company Seprod Limited is seeking to further expand its business with more exports and with increased expectations for profit margins during this financial year.

The company, which has raked in billions in profit since the divestment of its perennial loss-making Golden Grove sugar operation, said that it will be intensifying its export objective which group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Richard Pandohie said Seprod was seeking to grow by a minimum of 35 per cent year on year.

“The minimum target was to get to 30 per cent in two years and then take it from there,” he said at a Mayberry Investor Forum held this week where he also indicated that the company would be targeting the larger Latin American market, among others, to help with the growth of its portfolio.

“For a long time companies in the Jamaica have focused on the Caribbean Diaspora, but the Hispanic Diaspora is so big and they have so much similarity in taste. There are approximately four million Caribbean people in the US but there are 55 million Hispanics,” he noted.

Based on these projections, Pandohie said that the company was hoping to realise a six per cent or $2.4 billion increase in revenues this year with a normalised net profit gain of 13 per cent and earnings per share of $3.59. During its last financial year Seprod saw an 86 per cent increase in net profits over the prior year which amounted to $3.1 billion while revenues increased to $38 billion and total shareholder’s equity to $ 16.9 billion.

“That is what the management has committed to the board,” he stated, noting that, “There is no way one can make the investment we have made and expect to get returns just in Jamaica – we have to grow outside and we have to start earning our own foreign exchange,” he further stated.

The group CEO said that the use of technology along with other strategies were to form a critical part of the company’s growth ambitions. “We’re going to embed technology in everything that we do, the pandemic has shown that for a long time we [as a country] have operated behind the rest of the world when it comes to technology and this has now changed the way in which we are doing business”.

He added that the recent launch of its e-commerce platform – Seprodshop.com – was already showing positive signs locally, also gaining significant support from the Diaspora. He also said that the addition of its Supligen brand to global retail space Amazon was also reaping good rewards for the company, along with co-manufacturing partnerships with other companies.

Among the other measures to drive the desired growth, he cited the use of smart farming techniques and the implementation of climate resilient infrastructure along with the completion of its distribution campus along Marcus Garvey drive, which it expects to complete by November, as critical to the plan.

Mentioning the inclusion of people and the talent they possess as being paramount to its growth objective, Pandohie said that the company was also eyeing productivity growth of some three per cent this year which it expects to accelerate going forward.

In its outlook and plans for pipeline projects, the management of Seprod said that the over 80-year-old company would also seek to ensure its continued innovation of products and in new areas such as nutraceuticals along with an expansion of its healthy food line as well as through the pursuit of additional acquisition opportunities.

“I think the pandemic is going to create a lot of opportunities for manufacturing because of the near shore situation and I think that will create an opportunity for Jamaica that we should not miss and Seprod certainly is positioning itself to capitalise on those,” Pandohie said.