Thu | Oct 21, 2021

New player in cement market

Published:Wednesday | October 13, 2021 | 12:07 AM
Garth Walker, co-owner of Wealth Team Limited.
Garth Walker, co-owner of Wealth Team Limited.

A new player has entered the Jamaican cement market, behind which is a group of three local entrepreneurs. Wealth Team Limited, which trades as Growth Tech Special Projects, has been granted a licence by the Ministry of Industry, Investment...

A new player has entered the Jamaican cement market, behind which is a group of three local entrepreneurs.

Wealth Team Limited, which trades as Growth Tech Special Projects, has been granted a licence by the Ministry of Industry, Investment & Commerce to import up to 50,000 tonnes of ordinary Portland cement from Turkey, over the period September 20 to December 31 of this year, according to correspondence seen by the Financial Gleaner.

Jamaica’s cement market up to now has had two main players: sole manufacturer of the construction material, publicly traded Caribbean Cement Company Limited; and privately held importer Buying House. Both are foreign owned.

Caribbean Cement dominates the market, and has consistently argued for protection against unfairly priced foreign cement brands, but the industry ministry continues to allow carve outs for importers. Buying House is allowed to import up to 120,000 tonnes of cement over the course of a year.

The ministry’s Director of Supplies and Pricing, Jermaine Hunter, declined to comment on the new entrant.

Garth Walker, a principal owner of Wealth Team, confirmed receipt of the licence but declined further comment on the timing of shipments, warehousing and marketing.

The approval of a new cement trader comes amid a reported shortage of cement, and behind the announcement by Caribbean Cement that as part of its growth strategy it plans to spend US$30 million to upgrade and increase the capacity of its cement production plant located in Rockfort by 30 per cent. The plant upgrade will enable Caribbean Cement to push cement production capacity from 1.0 million tonnes to close to 1.4 million tonnes a year.

Wealth Team is a wholly owned subsidiary of Growth Tech Group. The company was founded in 2017 by Garth Walker, Ryan Reid and Neil Lawrence. Reid is also the president and co-founder of listed start-up First Rock Capital, which both invests in and develops real estate.

neville.graham@gleanerjm.com