Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Producers creates new Caribbean holding, puts Martin in charge

Published:Friday | September 2, 2016 | 9:00 AMTameka Gordon
David Martin ... tapped as managing director for the newly created JP Tropical Group.

Jamaica Producers Group Limited has folded all its Caribbean food subsidiaries into a newly created unit, the JP Tropical Group (JPTG), and has appointed David Martin as its managing director.

With the restructuring, Group Managing Director Jeffrey Hall hands over the day-to-day responsibilities for at least three businesses to Martin, who, before his new appointment, was director in charge of business support. Martin continues reporting to Hall.

The new business unit replaces the JP Tropical division and is meant to position the food subsidiary operations for growth. JP Farms, JP Snacks and Tortuga International Holdings now fall under JPTG. The managers of those businesses will now report to Martin.

"We have created a Caribbean holding and we have created a managing director and a financial controller for that business," Hall said, confirming information acquired by the Financial Gleaner.

"Nothing has changed in the way it stands - each of these subsidiaries has a head and that all stays in place," he said.

The changes take effect on Monday, September 5.

Coffee investment

Jamaica Producers is also invested in coffee through Mavis Bank Coffee Factory (MBCF) and coffee farm Andover, but those holdings will not fall under JPTG. Mavis Bank is a joint venture with Pan-Jamaican Investment Trust. However, the coffee businesses and JPTG are expected to continue working closely together.

JPTG will be located at Jamaica Producer's new Retirement Road complex, which was renovated for more than US$1 million to facilitate the relocation of rum cake subsidiary Tortuga from Montego Bay. The new Tortuga bakery was commissioned last month.

Retirement Road will also house the administrative offices of JPTG that are being relocated from Jamaica Producer's corporate headquarters at Oxford Road in New Kingston.

A new cold storage and banana-ripening and distribution facility is also planned for Retirement Road by year end.

Jamaica Producers' European food business Hoogesteger, as well as logistics subsidiaries JP Shipping and Kingston Wharves Limited, are unaffected by the changes.

While Martin's appointment will not change the direct leadership and general management teams of JP Farms, JP Snacks and Tortuga - the operations are headed by Damian Graham, Benjamin Valdez and Marcus Simmonds, respectively - he assumes Hall's day-to-day responsibilities in dealing with those managers.

Additionally: "Neil Crum-Ewing will continue to head all commercial operations for JP Farms and JP Snacks, and David will assume my responsibilities with respect to this portfolio as well," Hall said in the document seen by the Financial Gleaner.

The IT unit headed by Mario Swazey will also fall under JPTG, according to an internal document, but will continue to support the coffee business and corporate offices. However, those changes won't take effect until October 1, when Swazey begins reporting to Martin.

Martin, who has been with Jamaica Producers for around 10 years, is already seen as well versed in the businesses he will oversee, having previously participated in the management of the farms, marketing of the brands, and setting up the bakery and snack factories.

At JPTG, Martin's team will include Antoinette Livingston as financial controller - Livingston previously served as joint financial controller of JP Farms and JP Snacks; Stephanie Abrahams as HR business partner - she will assist Senator Norman Grant on a transitional basis with human resources matters at MBCF and Andover; and IT head Mario Swazey.

As part of the restructuring, current group HR manager for the Caribbean, Stephnie Stern, will depart the company today, September 2, after a short tenure at Jamaica Producers. Stern was hired for the HR job in February of this year. Martin and Abrahams are expected to take charge of her portfolio.

tameka.gordon@gleanerjm.com