Mon | May 29, 2023

Grace drops Russian dealer, huddles over war impact

Published:Sunday | April 3, 2022 | 12:07 AMNeville Graham - Business Reporter

GraceKennedy CEO Don Wehby.
GraceKennedy CEO Don Wehby.

Listed Jamaican conglomerate GraceKennedy Limited, which runs a global business across several sectors, says it has cut ties with its dealer in Russia through which is did business in that country, in keeping with worldwide sanctions against the Eastern European country for its ongoing invasion and devastation of lives and property in its neighbouring country of Ukraine. And, as the war continues, with its global repercussions, some 50 of GraceKennedy’s top managers are to meet in a company-wide retreat in another few days to consider next steps for the business.

Grace CEO Don Wehby had told a recent investor briefing that he had tasked a special team to come up with a risk assessment of the ongoing conflict. Wehby told the Financial Gleaner this week that special report he announced at a March 9 briefing, which he had requested, was in hand. However, he would not comment on it until the company’s executives had a chance to review it.

The review retreat is scheduled for April 12. He said the meeting was even more important, given the continuing spin-off effects on world trade and rising costs.

“Our risk assessment is a global one and we want to consider the impact it will have on the GraceKennedy Group. There is the broader issue in terms of the impact on oil prices, the price of wheat, alumina, etc,” Wehby said.

The GraceKennedy Group is a diversified worldwide operation with subsidiaries in North America, Europe and Africa. These channels are used to purchase inputs and deliver finished goods to growing markets.

Meanwhile, Wehby told the Financial Gleaner that on principle the company has pulled back from continued involvement in the Russian market.

“We had a small retailer in Russia that we ceased trading with immediately following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” said Wehby, noting that it was only logical that the Jamaican company had to stop doing business in Russia in light of that country’s invasion of Ukraine and the withdrawal of many businesses in protest against Moscow’s actions.

“What I am seeing happening is very sad. I would like to express our condolences to all of the families in Ukraine that are being impacted by this horrible war. I am happy to see that our Jamaican students arrived home safely,” Wehby had told investors and journalists last month.

For the financial year ended December 2021, GraceKennedy Group had net profit of $8.9 billion, a 30 per cent increase over the $6.2 billion in the previous year. This was on the back of $129.3 billion in total revenues, representing a 12 per cent increase over 2020 revenues. Total assets stand at nearly $200 billion, up 16.4 per cent over the $171.7 billion for the previous year.