Susan Gordon, Staff Reporter
KIRK DISTRIBUTORS Limited has formally taken over the distribution of Colgate's health and beauty products in Jamaica.
Colgate Palmolive Company Jamaica Limited exited the local distribution market in December 2005, leaving the distribution responsibilities in the hands of Kirk Distributors, the five months old subsidiary of Cari-Med Limited. The distributor officially launched its operations last week.
Cari-Med is a Jamaican company which has been distributing pharmaceuticals and consumer products for the past 20 years in Jamaica. Kirk Distributors was formed in January 2006 to handle the business.
The Colgate brand accounts for 75 per cent of the soap and dental cream market in Jamaica. Once it has ironed out its distribution obligations, general manger of Kirk Distributors, Alfred Thomas, said the company will look at joint manufacturing.
"Our expectation is to grow the distributions into small shops and areas where Colgate was not present," said Mr. Thomas, referring to both urban and rural areas.
Colgate's handing over of its local distribution business marks the second strategic shift in the domestic market in the last 10 years by the global brand, headquartered in New York.
In the mid 90s, Colgate Palmolive Jamaica Limited shifted its manufacturing operations from Marcus Garvey Drive in Kingston to Dominica Coconut Products Limited in Dominica. It was believed that the manufacturing plant in Dominica at the time was more efficient, and economic conditions there made manufacturing more cost effective.
In October of 2005, Colgate decided to further structure its products by outsourcing the sales and distribution of its products to Cari-Med in an effort to expand its business in the region.
With this in mind, Colgate sold its 85,000 square feet facility to Cari-Med Limited.
Kirk Distributors, was created by Cari-Med to control this line to distribution.
"We are doing what Colgate was doing," said Mr. Thomas. He declined to state the purchase price of the Colgate facility, but disclosed that his company had already spent over $5 million to refurbish the plant.
He said the company has maintained over 80 per cent of the Colgate staff. Kirk Distributors presently employs 68 persons.
Some Colgate products include Irish Spring, Palmolive Dishwashing Liquid, Axion, Castile, Blue Bummer, Carib Carbolic soap, Refresh, Suavitel, Mirage and Life Buoy.
"Next month, Kirk Distributors will have the contract to distribute the Kiwi brand and the Farco range of products which are principally manufactured in England," said Mr. Thomas. He foresees, regional partnerships taking place.
"Year over year, we are expected to grow by at least 10 per cent," he explained.