Fri | Sep 22, 2017

PriceSmart sales continue to grow in Jamaica

Published:Thursday | April 13, 2017 | 4:00 AMSteven Jackson

PriceSmart Inc reported increased sales for its Jamaican store in its February second-quarter 2017 but remains mum on possible expansion plans.

Contrastingly, sales throughout the Caribbean are mostly down weighed heavily by economic difficulties in Trinidad.

"US Virgin Islands and Jamaica recorded increased sales in this region," said Jose Luis Laparte, chief executive officer and president in a conference call this month.

The Caribbean segment comprises 11 stores, four of which are in Trinidad, three in the Dominican Republic, and one each in Jamaica, Barbados, Aruba and the US Virgin Islands.The financials did not disaggregate for the local operations.

"Unfortunately I am not in a position to announce any additional warehouse clubs at this time although our efforts on a number of possible sites continue," said Laparte, noting that PriceSmart recently acquired land in Costa Rica to build its latest warehouse club set to open in its 2018 financial year.

PriceSmart opened its one and only store in Jamaica in 2003. Earlier this month local media reports quoted a PriceSmart regional vice-president as saying that the chain was searching for another location in Jamaica but without success.

The Caribbean segment recorded an overall dip of 4.6 per cent in 'warehouse sales' over the period. Trinidad, its largest market in the Caribbean, recorded a 9.6 per cent dip in sales. The Dominican Republic, Barbados and Aruba also had negative sales growth.

Said Laparte on Trinidad: "Reflecting the current difficult economic conditions and also the limited shipments during that period. While we thought that the actions we took in November would have an impact on US8 to US$12 million in sales. I now think that the impact was less than than that".

limited shipments to T&T

Last year, PriceSmart limited its shipments to Trinidad & Tobago due to concerns about the availability of foreign exchange. Now Laparte said that those restrictions have been removed.

"We have lifted restrictions of US product shipments to Trinidad. We are hopeful that we can find an adequate level of foreign exchange to restore to what appears to be a slowly improving situation in that country," he said.

During the quarter Colombia led the region as the star performing country followed by Panama, Guatemala and Honduras. But sales in most other countries were flat or declining.

The company recorded net income of $27.2 million on revenues of US$772.3 million in the second quarter of fiscal year 2017 compared to $25.9 million in the second quarter of fiscal year 2016.

PriceSmart, which operates 39 stores in Latin American and the Caribbean made sales of US$716 million over three months, or 3.7 per cent higher year-on-year. Net income totalled $24.9 million over the period. During the last quarter, the company added a new store in Colombia, which grew that country's store count to seven. It opened a store in Nicaragua in November 2015.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com