Tue | Mar 20, 2018

10 Important Companies

Published:Wednesday | August 6, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Gassan Azan, CEO of MegaMart.
Glenford Christian, founder and chairman of Cari-Med.
Jamaica Producers
The Atrium, headquarters of National Commercial Bank Jamaica.-File
GraceKennedy's main building and Head Office, 73 Harbour Street, Kingston, and one of four GraceKennedy buildings on Harbour Street.

1. GraceKennedy

GraceKennedy is one of the Caribbean's largest and most dynamic corporate entities. The company started in Jamaica in 1922 as a small trading establishment and wharf operator. It has expanded and diversified over the years, changing from a privately owned enterprise to a public company listed on the stock exchanges of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.

Today, the GraceKennedy Group comprises a varied network of some 60 subsidiaries and associated companies located across the Caribbean and in North and Central America and the United Kingdom.

Its operations span the areas of food processing and distribution, banking and finance, insurance and remittance services, together with an investment in building materials retailing.

2. Jamaica Producers

Jamaica Producers Group (formerly the Jamaica Banana Producers Association Ltd) is a wholly Jamaican-owned company with a unique shareholder structure, which is the result of its equally unique history. The company came into being on April 1, 1929 as a direct descendant of the Jamaica Producers Association formed in 1925, under which separate cooperatives—one for the marketing of each agricultural product—were set up. It had an initial membership of 6,145.

The company was formed with the courageous objective of protecting the Cooperative and the local banana industry from demise owing to fierce competition from the large foreign-owned fruit companies in the shipping and marketing of Jamaican bananas.

It has since grown from strength to strength, diversifying into shipping, a related support businesses, and moving up the value chain to provide processed foods like smoothies, banana chips and juices.

3. LASCO Group of Companies

The LASCO Group of Companies comprises several businesses involved in manufacturing, packaging and distribution of high quality, nutritious and affordable products. Its pharmaceutical division represents world's leading pharmaceutical companies; while the financial service division provides national and international services.

Lascelles Chin founded LASCO in 1988 in the island's capital Kingston and since that time, the LASCO name has become synonymous with nutrition, great taste and affordability in the Caribbean, the Caribbean diaspora, Latin America, Europe and North America. The company is renowned for its quality beverages, cereals, meats and sauces, personal care items, household products and pharmaceuticals. LASCO currently exports its products to over 14 countries including CARICOM territories, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Canada, the UK, US, Panama, British Virgin Islands, and US Virgin Islands.

4. MegaMart

MegaMart, the brainchild of Jamaican businessman Gassan Azan Jr, revolutionised the landscape of retail shopping in Jamaica with the opening of its first outlet in Portmore, St Catherine on September 1, 1999. With the advent of the 75,000 square-foot store, shopping in a single location suddenly became multifaceted with grocery, bakery, haberdashery, clothing, electronics, liquor, food court and a pharmacy all under one roof. In essence, MegaMart was a one-stop shopping experience, coupled with the convenience of shopping until 10 p.m. seven days per week, another first in the local retail market.

With the success of the Portmore location, a second store was opened in Kingston on December 7, 2003. MegaMart Waterloo provided shoppers with 73,000 square feet of shopping convenience. Operations were later expanded to Montego Bay, and Mandeville, Manchester.

The company provides employment for over 1,000 persons.

5. National Commercial Bank

The National Commercial Bank Jamaica Limited (NCB) had its genesis when in 1837 the Colonial Bank of London, England, opened its doors on Harbour Street in Kingston. Through a series of mergers and acquisitions, the bank eventually became known, in 1977, as National Commercial Bank Jamaica Limited.

Today trading on both the Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago stock exchanges, NCB has grown to become Jamaica's largest financial services provider. NCB provides a wealth of financial services through its network of 36 locations islandwide. These services include chequing and savings accounts, credit card facilities, personal and commercial loans, insurance, and wealth management; supported by Internet banking.

6. Jamaica Broilers

The Jamaica Broilers Group of Companies is one of the most advanced and diversified agricultural producers in any developing nation today. The company started in 1958 as Jamaica's pioneer producer of broiler meat on a commercial basis. Today, it has a fully integrated poultry operation and has diversified into feed milling, cattle rearing, beef production and fish farming, along with the development and marketing of other value-added products for both local consumption and export.

The Jamaica Broilers Group has also devoted significant resources to developing affiliated services that support its varied agricultural operations.These include veterinary and nutritional services, the wholesale and retail of a full range of farm products and the pre-mixing of feed ingredients and concentrate.

Jamaica Broilers Group has been a publicly listed entity since 1992 and is one of the first companies in the world to offer an Employee Share Ownership plan. The company currently has a workforce of over 1,500 workers and operates from seven locations islandwide, with two divisions located in the United States.

8. CB Group

What started as a small bakery operation in a rural town in St Elizabeth eventually moved to Kingston in 1952, and now delivers breads, buns, crackers, biscuits and snacks under the National, HTB and Yummy brands islandwide. In the 1980s, this baking family ventured further into the food industry, taking a bold step into agriculture and planting the seeds for what today forms the CB Group, home of CB Chicken, Smart Eggs, Chippenham Eggs, Copperwood Pork, Caribbean Passion, Bad Dawg Sausages and Nutramix Feeds.

With a strong focus on people, training and technology, the CB Group has built vertically integrated poultry, swine and egg operations, the most modern feed mill in the Caribbean and today lead the Safe Food Movement.

7. Rainforest Seafoods

Armed with a wealth of experience in the tourism industry, Brian Jardim recognised that hotels in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean lacked a consistent, high-quality supply of the healthiest protein available - seafood. So, in 1995, he decided to embark on his vision; he turned to brokering container loads of bulk-packed seafood to Sandals Resorts throughout the Eastern Caribbean.

Today, Rainforest Seafoods is the largest, most consistent supplier of high-quality seafood throughout Jamaica and the wider Caribbean.

9. Island Grill

Island Grill sells authentic Jamaican food and its restaurants have a uniquely Jamaican feel. With menu items that include fried plantain, festival and jerk chicken, there's no mistaking the origins of this company. Thalia Lyn started Island Grill in 1991 and the chain has since grown to more than 15 in Jamaica and one in Barbados. The company also contributes consistently to charitable causes.

10. Cari-Med

Cari-Med employs more than 326 persons, a distant cry from the three persons it started with in 1986. It has maintained its place as a leader in innovation and business, due in no small part to its large investment in upgrading its information technology infrastructure, which has kept the company on the leading edge with current technologies. Cari-Med is a fully automated company with systems from different departments interfacing to provide a one-of-a-kind customer experience.

The warehousing and storage of goods have all been automated, enabling real-time inventory status reports. Hand-held devices (Motorola's Mobile Computers handheld and wearable terminal), which interface directly with the automated systems, enable speedier retrieval of stock as well as automatic invoice generation which translates into faster delivery times to customers. In 2005, Cari-Med welcomed Kirk Distributors as part of its family.

- Information taken from companies' websites