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Pharma company Bioprist buys former Jockey factories for BPO operation

Published:Sunday | May 10, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Janet Silvera Photo Dr Guna Muppuri (right) acceptsthe keys to the Jockey factories from former general manager Dalton Taylor.
File The former Jockey garment factory at Lucea, Hanover, now owned by Bioprist.

Hanover is to get its first business process outsourcing (BPO) operation, with the potential of creating jobs for about 2,000 persons by 2016.

The announcement was made by pharmaceutical company Bioprist, the new owner of the former Jockey factories that are located at Lucea and Sandy Bay. Both facilities, totalling around 144,000 square feet and sited on a combined 30 acres of land, housed garment factories that closed down five years ago when Jockey International pulled out of Jamaica.

Bioprist's managing director, Guna Muppuri, a medical doctor, said he would first commission the Bioprist Knowledge Parks at the larger of the factories at Sandy Bay as phase one of the project.

"The size of the infrastructure in Sandy Bay is 90,000 square feet, which can accommodate 2,000 seats, which means if we can get JAMPRO to negotiate with some good company interested in taking the entire facility, we can create employment for 2,000 people in Sandy Bay," Dr Muppuri told Sunday Business.

He said negotiations are ongoing with several interested companies.

Bioprist is investing approximately US$11 million up to the first phase, including the factory acquisitions, which Muppuri says is financed by private equity and debt.

"We are positive that within the next 12 to 15 months we will be up and running," said the Bioprist executive.

A member of the Business Processing Industry Association of Jamaica, Muppuri described his latest venture as payback time. He has built a medical practice in Hanover over 17 years, and credits his success to the parish's acceptance of him.

He was there when the owners of the Jockey operation pulled out of Jamaica and saw its impact on the community.

Hanover, "the parish that made me into a real man, suffered a big loss after the Jockey factories closed in 2008 and 2009", said Muppuri, adding that hundreds of jobs were displaced. "Many of them were my patients; now that I can help them, I want to ensure their families become the beneficiaries," he said.

The businessman, who was born in India, said he is creating a turnkey BPO facility, to be turned over to the businesses that take up space at the factories.

The keys to the two factories were handed over to Muppuri more than a week ago in a small ceremony attended by Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams.

"The Jamaica Investment Promotions (JAMPRO) will be willing to ensure its success," Ffolkes-Abrahams said of the Bioprist Knowledge Parks during the May 1 ceremony.

"This investment has great potential, given the fact that it is situated in a part of the island where there is a lot of talent coming out of the universities and also the colleges, and especially HEART Trust," she said.

President of the BPIAJ, Yoni Epstein, described the investment as "tremendous for Hanover, it is tremendous for Jamaica for the continued growth of the BPO sector", and an opportunity for employment of young Hanoverians coming out of high school and college and seeking jobs.