Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Lasco Financial heads west as business grows

Published:Wednesday | November 23, 2016 | 11:00 AMTameka Gordon
Jacinth Hall-Tracey, managing director of Lasco Financial Services Limited.

Lasco Financial Services Limited has opened a new location in Montego Bay and relocated its Red Hills Road branch to more spacious accommodation in Kingston.

The micro loan and money-services company invested just under $3 million to set up its new location at Bay West Shopping Centre, said managing director (MD), Jacinth Hall-Tracey. Five employees have been added there, with plans to hire at least two more.

"We took our first customer (last) Wednesday," Hall-Tracey said. The new branch offers the full gamut of services: micro loans, remittances, cambio and bill payments.

It cost "a lot more" to relocate the Kingston branch, but Hall-Tracey would not say how much. Lasco Financial is taking over space across the street formerly occupied by affiliated company, Lasco Manufacturing Limited. Its financial disclosures show that Lasco Financial's investment in plant and property quadrupled at year ending March 2016 from $8 million to over $35 million. Since then, the company has invested another $17 million.

"While Montego Bay had counters and floor space suitable to the offerings, the manufacturing site needed more resources in order to convert it," she said.

 

BURSTING AT THE SEAMS

 

"We had been occupying that location since we opened 12 years ago," she said of the former locale at 29 Red Hills Road. "Once you pass 12 persons, its full. Then, our administrative location was there too; so, as we started adding services and growing the business, we were bursting at the seams."

Lasco Financial's administrative arm was the first to move two years ago. It was done to give the money services part of the operation more space to deliver its services, but even so, the business still needed more room.

"So now we have just consolidated everything to get everybody under one roof," the MD said. The new headquarters spans nearly 3,000 square feet at 381/2 Red Hills Road.

Having moved in, Lasco Financial now plans to modify the entire parking lot and driveway to reincorporate its drive-through window.

The company has grown its remittance network from 98 locations in August 2015 to 124 locations up to August 2016. It distributes loans from seven locations.

The company closed its September second quarter with revenues of $272 million, up 19 per cent.

Core business lines grew revenue by nearly $50 million, however, other revenues fell as the company opted out of the phone distribution market.

Hall-Tracey said sales of mobile devices were coming in too slowly and so was not worth the investment.

"It was slow, so we just decided to refocus on our core. We wanted it to turn over our GCT a lot faster, so we would have a lower net receivable from the Government but it wasn't been fulfilled," she said.

Lasco Financial entered the phone market in 2015 with an announcement that it would be distributing Huawei devices in Jamaica. Staff from what Lasco called its telecoms unit were deployed elsewhere, and the inventory sold off by the end of August, the MD said.

Lasco Financial's net profit fell to $42 million in the second quarter, from $60 million in the 2015 period - a gap partly explained by an $11 million corporate income tax bill. Lasco Financial enjoyed a 100 per cent corporate tax waiver for five years, which has been cut to a 50 per cent waiver for another five years.

Six-month earnings have fallen from $114 million to $100 million.

The company sports $1.4 billion of assets, the largest portion of which is a loan portfolio of $550 million and cash of more than $475 million. Its loan book has grown by $120 million in the past year.

tameka.gordon@gleanerjm.com