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Jamaica Gold sold - JWN, Worthy Park to partner on retail sugar

Published:Sunday | November 3, 2019 | 12:00 AMMcPherse Thompson - Assistant Editor-Business
Chairman of Jamaica Cane Product Sales, Karl James
Jean-Philippe Beyer, Managing Director of J. Wray & Nephew

Spirit company J. Wray & Nephew Limited, JWN, a subsidiary of the Campari Group, has entered the retail sugar market under a 50:50 partnership with Worthy Park Estate to package and market the sweetener under the Jamaica Gold brand.

The brand was acquired from Jamaica Cane Products Sales, JCPS, a sugar marketing company now in the process of winding up its operations.

The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“This partnership will allow us to provide sugar produced exclusively from Appleton and Worthy Park Estates for the domestic and export markets under the familiar local brand,” Jean-Philippe Beyer, Managing Director of J. Wray & Nephew said in emailed responses to Financial Gleaner queries.

Worthy Park Estate is involved in the business of commercial production of cane and sugar. It also distributes branded rum.

Joint venture

“This joint commercial venture will ensure that there is efficiency in delivering a quality product to our customers,” Beyer said.

JWN also confirmed that given the partnership, Worthy Park Estate, which packaged and distributed retail sugar under the Worthy Park brand, will no longer be packaging the product under that name.

Beyer noted that the sugar industry in Jamaica has faced several challenges over the years with the declining price of sugar globally, removal of the preferential access to the European Union territories and changes in consumer taste.

“J. Wray & Nephew has responded to the bleak outlook by putting measures in place to improve operational efficiencies, reduce the size of its sugar operations and collaborating with other players in the industry such as Worth Park Estate. This is a testament to the Campari Group’s commitment to contributing positively to Jamaica’s economy and its development,” he said.

“It is our hope that the Jamaican Sugar industry will show signs of improvement soon. In the interim, J. Wray and Nephew will continue to review our operations and proactively implement corrective action,” Beyer added.

JWN’s primary business is spirits. Its operations include the cultivation of sugar cane, the manufacture of sugar and the distillation of rum and other spirits; the ageing, blending and bottling of rum; production of wines and other alcoholic beverages and marketing, sales and distribution of the company’s brands as well all non-owned brands that are represented by the company in Jamaica.

As to who will be packaging the sugar on behalf of the companies, JWN said it will be establishing a facility at the company’s Spanish Town Road, Kingston premises for that purpose. The company owns Jamaica Gold under its own name, J. Wray & Nephew.

In the meantime, chairman of Jamaica Cane Product Sales, Karl James said the company’s wind-up, which was slated for the end of October, has been pushed back to the end of December or mid-January 2020.

He said the company still have some assets, including two standby generators and office furniture which it wishes to dispose of, as well as collect outstanding sums owed before wrapping up operations.

“Winding up a company like JCPS that has been active in marketing and other things for the industry does take some time,” said James.

“We are not selling any products. What we are selling are assets, winding up, collecting outstanding sums from guys who are taking longer to pay because they know we are winding up,” he said.

James said the funds obtained from sale of the Jamaica Gold brand as well as equipment was not enough to cover JCPS’ debt, which The Gleaner reported in August stood at about $100 million.

“We have other sources from which we are gathering the money. We gathering all that we are supposed to get to pay off the people that we owe,” the JCPS chairman said.

He adds that the company has collected some of the funds due in refunds from Tax Administration Jamaica, but the matter has not been fully settled.