Sun | Sep 19, 2021

Rawle exploring acquisition, strategic partnerships for LASM

Published:Wednesday | August 4, 2021 | 12:10 AMKarena Bennett/Business Reporter
James Rawle, managing director of Lasco Manufacturing Limited.
James Rawle, managing director of Lasco Manufacturing Limited.

Lasco Manufacturing Limited, LASM, is on the hunt for acquisitions or may be looking to strike strategic partnerships over the coming months under a refreshed plan by the company to grow earnings.

After a decade focused on plant expansion and product innovation and development, the manufacturer, which is the second-largest revenue generator of the three-pronged Lasco affiliated companies, is ready to explore growth by a new means -- buying up other operations.

“I can’t be too precise on it but ... is there a partnership that we could enter into to bring new business into the company in the same line of the fast-moving consumer goods that we are doing? Or is there a company that we could try to acquire that would add value to what we are doing?” said LASM Managing Director James Rawle.

“In the past we have been focusing on solely organic growth, now we are moving up a little bit and looking at what are the possibilities,” he said.

Nevertheless, organic growth driven through product innovation and improvement remains a priority for the company.

“We still have internal growth as a target because that is important. Organic growth is sometimes a measure of your own ability to come up with new products for yourself. But to grow beyond that we have to look outside at what the possibilities are out there,” Rawle said.

Lasco’s locally manufactured products compete in the food, personal care and home care categories. Some 90 per cent of the company’s revenue is made in Jamaica but LASM is trying to grow its exports and is actively seeking markets in Latin American, particularly Venezuela and Colombia.

For the year ended March 2021, Lasco Manufacturing grew earnings 41 per cent to $1.37 billion on revenues that rose marginally to $8.2 billion.

The other two Lasco affiliates are Lasco Financial Services Limited and Lasco Distributors Limited, the latter acting as distributor for LASM products.

Outside of LASM products, LASD also distributes pharmaceutical items, as well as goods for local coffee processor Salada and home and personal care products for consumer company Unilever Caribbean, inclusive of Breeze, Comfort, Dove and Axe.

LASD ended its distribution arrangements for Unilever Caribbean’s cold storage and dry foods portfolio in 2017. The portfolio was later taken over by Wisynco Group, but with a new manager in charge at LASD since March, Trinidadian John deSilva, the latter company is looking to rebuild, and possibly improve on, the distribution weight it carried with Unilever Caribbean four years ago.

DeSilva gave up his job as managing director of Unilever Caribbean Limited to take up Lasco’s offer.

“Unilever is a good fit for us and a lot of effort is being put behind that distribution agreement to see how we grow the Unilever business beyond what it is today,” said Rawle, who is also deputy chairman of the Lasco affiliates.

“We are not going back into the cold storage and dry foods portfolio. It’s really the personal care line that we want to build out. I won’t speak on our targets but we have had Unilever for some time now and it has potential, it really should be a much bigger brand in Jamaica,” he said.

LASD produced earnings of $909.5 million for the year ending March 2021, which represented an increase of 25 per cent. Its annual revenue amounted to $20.3 billion.