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Norbrook Equity Partners and JP Group buy DR water business

Published:Wednesday | October 20, 2021 | 12:07 AM
Jeffrey Hall, managing director of Jamaica Producers Group Limited.
Jeffrey Hall, managing director of Jamaica Producers Group Limited.
Khary Robinson, executive chairman of Norbrook Equity Partners.
Khary Robinson, executive chairman of Norbrook Equity Partners.

Norbrook Equity Partners and Jamaica Producers Group, JP, want to transform a newly acquired ice and water company in the Dominican Republic, DR, into a formidable food and drink business.

Norbrook and JP announced on Friday the acquisition of the assets and operations of Grupo Alaska, said to be among the largest purified water and ice companies in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean country, through their 50:50 joint venture Grupo Frontera Limited, GFL, which translates to English as the Frontier Group.

The company was set up as a vehicle to “acquire and grow well-positioned companies in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean and Central America”, according to a statement from the equity partners.

“By leveraging our joint resources, skill sets, and relationships, we will successfully build a meaningful group of companies in the Spanish Caribbean. Alaska is the first such company and is extremely well positioned to evolve into a market leading food and beverage business in the Dominican Republic,” Khary Robinson, Norbrook’s executive chairman, said.

Grupo Alaska is said to manufacture and distribute Hielo Alaska and Hielo Crystal-branded ice for the Bavaro, Romana and Santo Domingo area markets in the DR through a network comprising two factories and 7,000 merchandisers. The company also sells water under the Alaska and Pura brands. In addition to its own brands, Alaska packages water for various third-party customers, from the Marriott Hotels to the Bon chain of ice cream stores.

Neither Robinson nor JP’s Managing Director Jeffrey Hall was available to comment on the transaction or to say how the partners planned to diversity Alaska from its current focus on water and ice, to a broader beverage and food business. However, JP, whose global holdings include a food manufacturing business in the Dominican Republic, as well as shipping logistics, snack and rum cake production, fresh produce, and fresh juices in Jamaica and Europe, is expected to capitalise on the new network that Alaska creates.

“This partnership with Norbrook, and the acquisition of Alaska, is another step in JP’s strategy to continue to strengthen and expand our investment portfolio in Caribbean food, logistics and infrastructure. We have been resident in the Dominican Republic for years as a manufacturer, but the Alaska platforms deepens our penetration in the local retail market,” Hall said in the release announcing the acquisition. “We believe this partnership and platform will increase the efficiency in which we commercialise opportunities in key markets in the region,” he said.

The Grupo Alaska acquisition is an expansion of Norbrook’s Jamaican ice distribution business, Pure National Limited, which markets the product under the Happy Ice and Pure National Ice brands.

The Norbrook and JP joint statement said Grupo Alaska’s management team would remain intact but that the company would be spearheaded by two executives selected externally for their history of leading successful businesses in the Dominican Republic.

“Enrique Noboa, formerly of Mercasid and Phillip Morris, and Daniel Batista, formerly of Kimberly-Clark and Argico, were named CEO and CFO of Grupo Alaska, respectively. They will be supported by the experienced team at Grupo Frontera as they leverage their deep market experience to transform the Alaska platform into a more robust and successful manufacturer and distributor of food and beverage products,” the statement said.