Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Jamaican Teas Limited increases visibility

Published:Monday | April 11, 2016 | 4:00 AMKeisha Hill
The management team of Jamaica Teas Limited, (back row left-right), Devon Gardner- chief financial officer; Robert Bignall – accountant; Norman Russell – factory manager; and Oliver Goldsmith – chief accountant.(Front row left-right) Carla Francis – accounting clerk; Tanisha Samuels – administrative manager; Charles Barrett – marketing manager; and Patricia Newby – assistant accountant.
Mahfood
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Jamaican Teas Limited, a small family-owned company led by General Manager John Mahfood, sought equitable financial solutions to fund the expansion of the manufacturer's warehouse and the marketing of its products on the export market.

Research for financing led Mahfood and his team to listing on the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) Junior Market because of the myriad opportunities presented for the continued growth of the business.

"We could either have borrowed US dollars or local equivalents at high interest rates from local banks, but both sources would prove to be risky," Mahfood said.

Listing has increased company visibility and helped the company to realise a higher level of professionalism and accountability to clients and suppliers.

"There has been increased exposure for the company as our name comes up often in media reports. Our suppliers and customers also assume that listing on the Junior Market means we have reached a certain level of professionalism and they feel more comfortable doing business with us," Mahfood said.

Jamaica Teas manufactures a range of Tetley and Caribbean Dream brands, and sells approximately 40 per cent of its product to the English-speaking Caribbean and United States market. They also manufacture under contract to LASCO, GraceKennedy, Kendel, and others internationally.

Jamaica Teas Limited is presently 90 per cent owned by the Mahfoods and is the largest producer of teas in the English-speaking Caribbean, selling more than 100 million teabags annually.

Listing on the Junior Market has also created an opportunity for employees share ownership, making them more accountable to their shareholders and improving their quality of management.

 

EMPLOYEE PARTICIPATION

 

"We want our employees to participate in the fortunes of the company and be more a part of the team instead of just being employees. There is also automatic value attained for our shares," Mahfood said.

In 2010, Jamaican Teas ventured into real estate projects and grew in offering consumer brands of Tetley, Caribbean Dreams teas, as well as Jamaica Blue spring water products.

They also successfully completed their first real estate development and have entered into agreement to purchase land for future developments.

They have also purchased and retrofitted their Bell Road, Kingston, building for their manufacturing and administrative operations and issued corporate bonds to fund new real estate development.

"Based on our savings in taxes over the years, we are able to put back the profits into the business. Business has grown in sales and diversity and we have also increased our employee count to more than 100," Mahfood said.

"Equity, rather than borrowing money, is less risky. More people should be willing to get involved and list on the Junior Stock Exchange. The benefits will far exceed the initial investments and you will see the difference in growing and operating their business," Mahfood said.

The company directors are John Mahfood - CEO; Suzette Smellie-Tomlinson - non executive director; Duncan Davidson- non executive director; Marcos Dabdoub - non executive director and John Jackson - non executive director and mentor to the board.

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com