Jamaica Producers has completed the sale of its 65 per cent stake in UK-based banana ripening and fruit distribution company, JP Fruit Distributor, for US$41.9 million (approximately J$2.76 billion).
JP notified the Jamaica Stock Exchange on Wednesday that the "previously announced sale of its 65 per cent shareholding in JP Fruit Distributors Limited to Dole Food Company" was complete.
Oportunity to expand
JP's Chairman, Charles Johnston, said two weeks ago, that the sale would give his firm "the opportunity to use funds for expansion in other markets, such as juices in the U.K."
JP operates its subsidiary, The Serious Food Company, in the United Kingdom to produce and sell smoothies and fresh juices, with Sunjuice being the largest business unit in the division.
Producers' fresh and processed foods division, which involves the distribution of fresh produce other than bananas along with the manufacturing and distribution of juices, saw its profit before tax increase from $28 million during the three months to June 18, 2005 to $141 million during the comparative period this year.
Mainstay in operations
Additionally, that division has become a mainstay in the group's operations, contributing almost 90 per cent ($640 million) of the pre-tax profit in 2004 and 53 per cent ($328 million) of profit before tax in 2005.
The falloff last year was due to the impact of a "product tampering incident affecting a single carton of product from one of our juice factories," according to the company's 2005 annual report, which lead to a decision to institute a limited product recall in April last year.
Johnston added that his firm would remain in the banana business "in the near future."
"We plan to continue growing bananas locally which we will sell to Dole," said Johnston.