Tue | Sep 28, 2021

Chas E. Ramson adding warehouse space, cold storage

Published:Sunday | October 13, 2019 | 12:00 AMKarena Bennett - Business Reporter
Chas E Ramson representatives, from left, Sales Consultant Raymond Silvera, Managing Director Phillip Ramson, Chairman John Ramson, and Director of Operations Christopher Ramson at the groundbreaking for new warehouse space at 449 Spanish Town Road, Kingston.

Chas E. Ramson Limited is investing $375 million in warehouse expansion for which construction has already broken ground on lands owned by the distribution company at its operating base in Kingston.

The new warehouse space that Ramson aims to commission by April will double its storage ­capacity, add new office space, bring its cold-storage operation indoors, and add 10 jobs. The ­company is also investing in three trucks to boost its fleet.

The near century-old Ramson, which currently leases a cold-­storage facility off-site, says ­investing in its own facility would reduce its operating costs.

“The area that was used for warehousing, part of it will be converted and expanded for the new warehouse and cold-storage facility while another section will be used for offices and a meeting room,” Advertising and Marketing Manager Kathryn Silvera told the Financial Gleaner.

“We have a meeting room, but we would like a larger meeting room, and some of our offices were segregated from the main building, so we want to bring that inside,” she said.

Chas E. Ramson’s head office at 449 Spanish Town Road sits on a 2.5-acre property. The complex, which was acquired in 1970 by founder Charles Ernest Ramson, was originally shared with Royal Bank Jamaica Limited. Over the years, minor changes were made to improve the property, but the planned warehouse expansion is the first major undertaking for the company.

The build-out will be financed through bank loans and has been contracted to Barry Shorthouse of Boomer Construction.

“We are still looking to see if we can put solar on the roof of the cold-storage facility to reduce electricity costs, but we haven’t finalised what the total savings will be. However, we know that with our current financials, we can go forward with the expansion,” Silvera said.

A family-owned company since 1922, Chas. E. Ramson distributes brands including Foska Oats, Elle and Vire, Blue Diamond, Smucker’s, and Easispice. However, over the past two years, the company has ramped up efforts to secure new products for distribution in line with the expansion programme.

“We’ve been focusing on getting local or international products that will appeal to the Jamaican market, and over the past two years, we have introduced the Cerez fruit juice, magic malt, pouring wines for the food service industry, and some household items,” Silvera said.

The company, which is also the only distributor of sister company Caribbean Foods Limited’s Foska brand of products, has also been working to increase stock, keeping units under the Foska portfolio. Caribbean Foods’ latest line of products include Foska refined cornmeal and Foska Old Fashioned Oats.

Chas E. Ramson currently distributes more than 42 brands spread across food, beverage, and household items, of which locally made products account for roughly 40 per cent of sales. Local sales are primarily driven by the Foska line of products.

Silvera noted that as the company looks to secure more distribution contracts, its focus remains on quality and affordable products that are in keeping with the healthy lifestyle trend.