Thu | Dec 7, 2023

Lasco fine-tunes plan for new product rollout, partnerships

Published:Friday | February 18, 2022 | 12:12 AM
Lasco Manufacturing Limited Managing Director James Rawle.
Lasco Manufacturing Limited Managing Director James Rawle.

The phased reopening of schools and relaxation of curfew hours provides for better economic conditions for Lasco Manufacturing, LASM, to roll out a line of new products that’s been stalled since last year.

The manufacturing company closed the December 2021 quarter with earnings of $403 million, up 43 per cent on the comparative period of 2020, while revenue at $2.4 billion was up 16 per cent year-on-year.

Managing Director James Rawle has been in wait-and-see mode on a line of dry goods and beverages the manufacturing entity had hoped to roll out over the latter half of 2021, but with continuous relaxation of the COVID-19 social distancing measures, he says the company is now fine-tuning plans to have the products on supermarket shelves within the next few months.

“Now that schools are back in session and out of home consumption has increased, we think that the environment is more fitting for rollout now. In a couple of months we will have some new products on the market,” Rawle told the Financial Gleaner.

He did not disclose the products, citing competitive reasons.

Concurrently, LASM is also looking for new partnerships and is also scouting for acquisition targets to grow the company, whose margins are been pressured by rising raw material and shipping costs.

“We continue to talk to people, but we are not ready to provide a comment specifically on that,” Rawle said. It’s the first time that LASM is looking for growth outside of product innovation, factory expansion and operational efficiencies.

LASM’s new products will be marketed by affiliate Lasco Distributors Limited, LASD. 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.

“The nutrition business, including the food and beverage brands continues to grow, led by a recovery in the beverage category as out-of-home channels reopened and on-the-go consumption increased. Our long-standing distribution arrangement with Salada Foods delivered growth in the coffee and tea portfolio, driven by expanded distribution and excellent in-store execution,” said Rawle in a statement released with the company’s third-quarter financial results. He is deputy executive chairman for both companies.

LASD commands the most revenue among the three, bringing in $5.8 billion in the December quarter, up 12 per cent, while earnings rose 18 per cent to $286 million – a performance the company partly credited to the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions.

LASD’s business is divided into three portfolios – nutrition, hygiene and healthcare. The company has been rethinking its distribution strategy and restructuring its portfolios, in a move to gin up revenues that took a hit under the pandemic.

The changes have started with LASD’s hygiene portfolio, under which new Managing Director De Silva has created a ‘home care’ segment, and expanded the beauty and personal care products the company carries. It’s also added the laundry brand Surf and reintroduced soap brand Lifebouy to the local market.