Tue | Oct 27, 2020

COVID presents new business agenda – Pandohie

Published:Wednesday | September 23, 2020 | 12:07 AMChristopher Serju/Senior Gleaner Writer
Richard Pandohie (left), chief executive officer/managing director, Seprod Limited, in discussion with P.B. Scott (centre), chairman, Seprod Limited, and Damion Dodd, chief financial officer and corporate secretary, Seprod Limited, during the company’s a
Richard Pandohie (left), chief executive officer/managing director, Seprod Limited, in discussion with P.B. Scott (centre), chairman, Seprod Limited, and Damion Dodd, chief financial officer and corporate secretary, Seprod Limited, during the company’s annual general meeting, held on Monday at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston.

The global economic challenges caused by the COVID pandemic have also created lucrative opportunities for local businesses, chief executive officer of the Seprod Group, Richard Pandohie, assured stakeholders on Monday.

COVID-19 is truly reshaping our world and the way we do business. While there are many unknowns and the challenges are well documented, what is not well talked about are the opportunities that the disruption has created, Pandohie told Monday’s 81st annual general meeting of the Seprod Group at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston.

The disruption of global supply chains has in fact created export opportunities and possible value-enhancing acquisitions, according to Pandohie. This presents an opportunity for an economic reset with emphasis on a more diversified business mix. However, the realisation of growth would not come from bigger companies like Seprod alone, but would depend primarily on strategic investments in small and medium-sized businesses, the businessman noted.

“Emphasis has to be placed on putting a lot of effort into SMEs to strengthen them, so that they can employ people and we can create quality jobs. In the manufacturing/agricultural sector, I think it is one of our biggest opportunities for value-added growth, and so we need to be putting (the necessary) measures in place. I believe, for example, the penalties on GCT payments, etc., could be forgone for a period of time.

“Those penalties are onerous. Allow the companies to keep their cash flow going to keep people employed because we will not have enough funds to do direct interventions for any sustained period. So we have to create an environment where we can create jobs at this time. The social inequity in our society is a problem and we need to find ways to start correcting those, we need to find a way to create a better Jamaica for everybody,” he proposed.

In fact, diversification has already begun to pay dividends for the manufacturing and distribution entity in a big way, according to Pandohie. In 2019, the Seprod Group exited the sugar industry by closing the unprofitable Golden Grove Sugar Factory in Duckenfield, St Thomas, and completing the consolidation of its dairy operations business.

These tough but necessary initiatives have set the stage for significant improvement in its business operations, as evidenced by its 2020 first-half results.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com