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National Bakery establishing own distribution company in US

Published:Wednesday | September 24, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Steven Sykes File

Continental Baking Company, operator of National Bakery, will soon establish its own distribution company in the United States.

Director of operations, Steven Sykes, said the company will be utilising a warehouse in Brooklyn, New York. He noted that Continental already had a presence in the tri-state area, as another distribution company delivered its HTB products.

The soon-to-be-completed distribution outlet will, however, carry the National brand of products. In March, The Gleaner reported that Continental was investing approximately $163 million to expand its London-based distribution and warehousing operations, as well as improve its distribution network in New York. Sykes admitted the move wasn't necessarily cost effective, but had other benefits.

GREATER CONTROL

"It's actually more expensive," he said. "But you are more in control of what you're doing." Sykes reasoned that working with a distributor, while putting the cost more on the partner entity, had its drawbacks in other areas.

"For example, if he (the distributor) has several products, yours may not be the focus," he said. Sykes said the process was already in progress, and hoped to have everything ready by year end. A final cost was not yet available. He estimated the company may have about six workers at the start. The tri-state area is known for its large Caribbean, particularly Jamaican population, and Continental sees this as an opportunity to further enhance the National brand. In recent years, Sykes said National Baking Company has been focusing more on the export market, looking at various countries. The company's export markets include Canada as well as Caribbean islands such as the Turks and Caicos, Antigua and Barbuda, and Grenada. When quizzed about replicating the establishment of distribution companies in other territories, Sykes was cautious.

"We do have our own distribution company in the United Kingdom," he said, "but we don't know if any of the other territories are big enough." He reasoned that unless the company could achieve a certain volume, it wouldn't be economically viable. National Baking Company is easily one of Jamaica's largest producer of buns, breads, biscuits, crackers and other snacks. In 1952, Reginald Hendrickson moved his bakery business from Mandeville to Kingston, installing his new bakery in premises at 45 Half-Way Tree Road, still the location of the company's operations. In 1967, National established its connection with US-based Continental Baking Company.