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Mark Hart - banking on a superior brand

Published:Wednesday | December 17, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Mark Hart
Mark Hart (left) and Tom Tyler

Mark Hart, the executive chairman of the Caribbean Producers Jamaica Limited (CPJ), is Mr Diversification himself, with a proven ability to guide strategies in response to an erstwhile market.

Exposed to the family business of apparel in his earlier years, in 1994 he co-founded the company which has now become a marketing and distribution name within the region.

Mark Hart brought to CPJ considerable management experience, having begun his career as the managing director of the Hart family's group of companies in 1982, eventually becoming chairman and chief executive officer in 1997.

A graduate of the University of Miami, his role as executive chairman at CPJ was preceded by stints as chief executive officer from 2004 until early 2011.

To his experience has been added his roles as former chairman of the Airports Authority of Jamaica and other corporate bodies.

Hart now heads a company which epitomises branding power, offering a one-stop shop for most internationally known brands.

CPJ has, in two decades, established itself as a preferred vendor to the island's top hotels and as a national distributor for global brands. It also operates a frozen beverages factory and a pasteurised liquid eggs manufacturing plant.

CPJ is a member of the Hart Group of Companies, nationally recognised for the construction of the Montego Freeport. But the early years presented many challenges.

Looking back at the journey, Hart says, "CPJ has had an impressive level of growth over its 20-year history. This growth was hard-earned, accomplished with limited resources, both financial and human."

Established to serve the hospitality industry, the company gained traction in the area of high-end food products for which there was significant demand.

The addition of a portfolio of premium brands in beverages, wines and spirits enabled the retail division to quickly become the main area of growth. To support the retail trade division, the provision of merchandising service was also started in 2003.

Looking towards the next years for CPJ, Hart says: "For the future, CPJ has the benefit of experience to take advantage of opportunities."

He sees tourism as the most dynamic and sustainable sector within which the company will continue to gain strength.

- Contributed