Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Lasco Manufacturing appoints new head as financials dip

Published:Friday | June 2, 2017 | 6:00 AM
James Rawle, new managing director of Lasco Manufacturing Limited.

Days ahead of the release of its yearly results, Lasco announced a new chief for its manufacturing outfit.

The company also announced a rollback in prices by as much as 30 per cent for a star product in its beverage line-up, iCool - a move sector sources say is linked to jockeying in the drinks market, where buyers now favour low price offerings over value.

James Rawle took over as managing director of Lasco Manufacturing Limited on Thursday, June 1. Robert Parkins, whom he replaces, will revert to the position of general manager, a title he previously held when he joined the company in March 2015 and was promoted to managing director in September 2015, according to Lasco's profile on Parkins.

Parkins replaced Dr Eileen Chin, the wife of the chairman, who resigned as head of the company but remained on its board.

Lasco Manufacturing increased annual sales by $400 million to $6.9 billion for the period ending March 2017, but its bottom line shrank 18 per cent to $707 million, in a reversal of the company's profit growth trajectory.

Sister operation also sheds earnings

The manufacturing outfit's sister operation, Lasco Distributors Limited, also shed earnings. Its net profit fell from $717 million to $610 million, even though revenue had grown by more than a billion dollars to $15.8 billion. Lasco Distribution handles distribution for Lasco Manufacturing.

Over the past three years, the growth of Lasco Manufacturing was led by iCool, a relatively cheap, sweetened, flavoured drink in a bottle. The product competes in the retail trade with Squeezz, Bigga and Tropics. Additionally, it gets street-side competition from Cal's bag juice sold directly to commuters at bus stops and within schools.

Efforts to speak with Lasco were unsuccessful.

Rawle formerly ran Swiss-owned NestlÈ Jamaica, has an extensive track record in manufacturing, and has also served on several public boards. The notice of his appointment at Lasco says he currently serves as chairman of the board of the Bureau of Standards Jamaica, an outfit that oversees food processing and other standards. Rawle was not reached for comment, so it's unclear whether he will give up his role at the state-run agency.

Rawle's training in organic chemistry forms the base for his various positions in management, manufacturing, research, sales, marketing and finance, stated Lasco.

Parkins has a background in engineering, construction and manufacturing. Prior to joining Lasco, his track record includes postings with Jamaica Producers Group, Salada Foods Jamaica, and Cigarette Company of Jamaica, which is now defunct.

Lasco group of affiliated companies invested US$28 million on infrastructure expansion and marketing in recent times. Of that amount, Lasco Manufacturing invested US$12 million to introduce three production lines for iCool and Nutrify products. Lasco Distributors invested US$8 million to expand its warehousing space and distribution centre. Lasco Financial Services invested US$3 million to expand its money services and an additional US$5 million on marketing and promotions.

steven.jackson@gleanrjm.com