Seafood exporter to double staff, drive market growth
With its more than $100-million restaurant due for completion by summer 2018, seafood trader B&D Trawling is keen on doubling its staff complement to 400 employees, according to Chief Executive Officer Roderick Francis.
In declaring the company's intent to stimulate employment, Francis stated that ramping up seafood exports would also help to curb the sliding of the dollar.
While annual seafood export figures stand at approximately US$15 million, Francis has expressed ambitions of reaching the US$100 million export target in another five years.
"It's a feasible and achievable target, but it's going to take a lot of coordination with the ministry to facilitate trade and make things happen," he told The Gleaner at the latest 'Pop-up Kitchen' event on Friday at Port Royal Street in downtown Kingston.
Francis said that the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries has been receptive to talks on export and trading as B&D Trawling is currently working out details of an agreement with China.
"We're trying to get them to accept our health certificates, so the Chinese delegation will be here in September, and we're hopeful to get that resolved before the end of the year," said Francis.
He added: "We want to bring back development to downtown. My dream, overall, is to employ more and more Jamaicans. Seafood is going to be a major economic driver for the development of Jamaica. I'm very much looking forward to that."
The first phase of the company's restaurant, due for full opening in December, cost approximately $50 million, with the second phase running an additional $60 million and set to open next year.
B&D Trawling has a network of more than 2,000 fishermen.
The company is Jamaica's largest exporter of processed conch and lobster to the United States, Europe, and Asia, supplying more than 150,000 pounds of lobster per year.