Fri | Oct 30, 2020

Lowe exiting CPJ - Switching from food to finance

Published:Wednesday | December 11, 2019 | 12:44 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer
David Lowe, outgoing CEO of Caribbean Producers Jamaica Limited.
David Lowe, outgoing CEO of Caribbean Producers Jamaica Limited.

After three and half years as the chief executive of large food and spirits distributor Caribbean Producers Jamaica Limited, CPJ, Dr David Lowe is departing the company within weeks to re-enter the financial sector as partner in a new private equity firm.

That company, he said, will invest in “growth opportunities” in the Caribbean and Latin America and is headed by a former investment banker and former managing director of Blackrock, one of the world’s largest asset managers.

Lowe joined CPJ in February 2012 and was promoted to the position of CEO in June 2016. He departs the company on January 31, and Chairman Mark Hart will act as interim CEO until a replacement is found.

Lowe is credited with developing new retail channels for the brand – moving the organization from hotels only into supermarkets – during his tenure at the helm of CPJ. Caribbean Producers also embarked on an expansion programme that has given the company a larger presence in the Caribbean in retail, processing, and distribution.

But the failed implementation of a new IT system also happened on his watch, leading to the write-off of technology investments and big losses for the company.

In the first year of Lowe’s leadership of CPJ, the company booked a profit of US$2.6 million. But while revenue hit a new high of nearly US$110 million at year ending June 2019, the company is attempting to emerge from losses that amounted to US$1.17 million.

It was the first loss for the company since its listing on the junior stock market in July 2011, according to Financial Gleaner records. More than half of the bleed, US$680,000, was due to the write-off of the new IT system.

Lowe is a corporate finance professional who received his doctorate in finance from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. He has international work experience in the UK, Australia, and Singapore and was once a senior executive with Accenture, a global strategy consulting firm.

Even as a food executive, he has maintained ties with the finance sector and is currently the chairman of nascent private-equity firm First Rock Capital, which specialises in real estate investments.

As for his time at CPJ, Lowe said. “The history and the journey have been remarkable with many milestones that have defined the resilience of the business.”

He thanked Hart and co-chairman Tom Tyler for the opportunity to lead the company, and Hart in turn lauded Lowe in a statement to staff.

Lowe is a shareholder in Caribbean Producers through Bricks Limited, which holds 1.09 per cent of the CPJ stock, and is one of the top 10 owners.