Sabrina Gordon, Business Reporter
William Mahfood, the managing director of the Wisynco Group, has shed his portfolio responsibility for marketing as the beverage company restructures.
Mahfood will instead focus on the long-term development of the group to ensure that as volume sales climb its physical infrastructure is growing in tandem with the business.
"The key here is that the company has gone through substantial growth in the last couple of years," he told the Financial Gleaner.
"We have not only grown our own brands like Wata, Bigga and Boom that we have developed, but have also grown through the acquisition of third-party brands."
Wisynco's early beginnings 48 years ago under four Mahfood brothers, including William's father Ferdinand, was in water boots and, later, plastics and foam. The latter side of the business remains - Wisynco continues to define itself as "the largest plastic and foam manufacturer in the English-speaking Caribbean" - but the company has evolved more sharply into a drink business as well as a food-franchise operator.
Today, William Mahfood oversees a company that represents 4,000 products sold under 110 brands, including the offerings of Coca-Cola Company and Ocean Spray.
"Five years ago we started with Coke, last year Red Bull, and more recently with Nestle ice cream and the Unilever portfolio," he said.
"Each time we have this type of acquisition or transition into this new development of business, it puts a lot of strain on the current management structure and we have made some of these changes to try and alleviate some of the pressures, especially, in areas like marketing and sales execution, because while we have grown and have been good at what we do, this is going to create opportunities for improvement just because of these new businesses."
Wisynco is now the exclusive franchise holder for the entire range of products under the Coca-Cola brand.
Similarly, in July of this year, Nestlé Jamaica Limited signed Wisynco Group as exclusive distributor of its ice cream products in the island. That arrangement took effect in August.
Earlier in April, the company also announced a J$600-million distribution deal with the restaurant chain Mother's Enterprises. The partnership will see Wisynco providing Mother's with its full suite of beverage products.
Mahfood hopes to grow sales 25 per cent this year, but would not quantify what that amounted to involume sales or revenue. He is spending J$1 billion over the next year to add capacity at the plant.
"It's hard to believe that we have outgrown the facility. Even on the distribution side, the cold storage facility which is just two years old, we have now outgrown," said Mahfood.
"We will continue to expand our production. We are now going to start to plan for a whole new factory for additional production, and we are going to move into a new corporate head office by the end of this year or early next year," he said.
As Wisynco repositions its team, Mahfood will focus on sales, operations and long-term business development.
The marketing function has been given to François Chalifour, whose title becomes director of marketing and development.
Chalifour, who has been with the company since 1995, was previously director of beverage manufacturing. That role has now been given to Devon Reynolds, who takes over all aspects of the company's manufacturing and engineering duties, prior to which he had oversight for just the plastic manufacturing segment.
Meeting future demand
"We looked at how the business has evolved, how we anticipate it will continue and where we want to go and grow even further, and how best to allocate so as to meet the future demand," said Chalifour.
"Products like Boom, Wata, Cran Wata and Bigga we expect to continue to grow at double digits and that requires more attention. It will also likely require more equipment, more investment, and better servicing of customers, merchandising and promotion to support these products in the trade," he said.
He said that there will also be an increase focus on smaller accounts, such as shops, although not divulging how much that segment accounts for in the company's operation.
The St Catherine plant produces about one million cases per month. Wisynco estimates its market share at 35 per cent for non-alcoholic beverages and 70 per cent for energy drinks.
Other management shifts include the promotion of Sean Scott to chief executive officer of Wisynco Foods. Scott was previously an executive in the finance and strategic planning division and replaces Steve Lym, who resigned recently.
Wisynco Foods operates the Wendy's, Domino's, and Häagen-Dazs franchises.
Scott's focus there, said Mahfood, "is to grow that business, add new stores, make the current stores that are not profitable become profitable, and bring down cost in the organisation."