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Tortuga heading to Cross Roads

Published:Wednesday | December 2, 2015 | 12:00 AMTameka Gordon
Tortuga rum cakes.

Tortuga International Holdings Limited (TIHL) says it will increase production tenfold when it commissions a new bakery in Kingston by next year.

The cake-maker is relocating its operations from Montego Bay and will spend more than US$1 million to set up shop on Retirement Road on property held by parent company Jamaica Producers Group (JPG).

The new plant "will likely be leased from the group," TIHL's CEO Marcus Simmonds told Wednesday Business.

At nearly 15,000 square feet, the Retirement Road factory will see have speed baking lines, and house warehousing, distribution and administrative facilities. It will have the capacity to produce and distribute up to two million pounds of rum cake annually. Simmonds declined to state the current output.

"This new factory will increase our capacity more than tenfold with the investment. We are really moving from a modular-based production to linear based, so rather than us doing batch-type processing, we are going to be moving on a line," the CEO said.

NEWMARKETS

With the added capacity, Tortuga plans to sell more products in St Thomas and St Martin, as well as Spanish-speaking Caribbean territories.

"There are a lot of the Spanish-speaking Caribbean countries in which we are in the infancy stages of development such as Dominican Republic. Our plan is to deepen our penetration in markets that we aren't in, in a major way," he said.

Construction and installation of the new line will begin by the end of this year, as soon as all of the requisite development permits are obtained, the company said.

Tortuga expects to boost its staff complement by around 22 per cent at the new location and is looking to keep some of the 17 employees from Montego Bay who are able to relocate, Simmonds said.

The world-famous Tortuga brand of rum-infused products was founded 31 years ago in the Cayman Islands by Jamaica-born Captain Robert Hamaty and wife, Carlene.

The range includes rum, chocolate rum turtles with sea salt, rum balls, rum fudge, Caribbean sauces, and a Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee and rum-flavoured gourmet treat.

The company operates bakeries either directly or through franchisees or associated companies in Barbados, Cayman, and the Bahamas, with distribution pushed through international retail outlets and gift shops.

tameka.gordon@gleanerjm.com