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After Ghana, GK has eyes on Nigeria

Published:Friday | June 1, 2012 | 12:00 AM

GraceKennedy Limited says it will not set up offices in its newest market, Ghana, but will distribute its products through an unnamed partner in the United Kingdom.

"We believe that 2012 will see the growth of our UK business, which will be used as a launching pad into the rest of Europe and Africa," said GK group CEO Don Wehby.

"No, we won't have a physical presence; we are operating through a distributor we have in the UK, who also distributes to Ghana. So we just collaborate with people on that side of the world," Wehby told the Financial Gleaner on the margins of the conglomerate's annual general meeting on Wednesday.

He also said the next frontier would be Nigeria. His deputy, Michael Ranglin, CEO of GK Food Division, said, however, that entry to that market is several years away after the Ghana operation is fully developed.

"We will probably need about three to five years to develop that market before we start going after another one. So we want to use some time to strengthen that relationship before we move on," Ranglin said.

Wehby said GraceKennedy has been doing research in Ghana since July 2008 when it experimented with corned beef.

Since then, they have stacked supermarket shelves with other Grace products including ginger beer, coconut water, Tropical Rhythms drink, and the Econo sauces made by its UK food company.

In June, the company will add Grace mackerel to the line-up.

"Before we launch any product, we do a set of market research and see what the feedback is like. Right now, we are staying focused on canned meats and juices and our Econo sauce. In the long run, we will see if we can have as many products over there as possible; but first we have to study the market and see what the response is like," said Wehby.

Expansion in Ghana forms part of the company strategy to reduce concentration of revenue from the Caribbean. GK hopes to grow earnings from Africa, Europe and North America to 15 per cent by 2020.

Currently, GraceKennedy, whose annual revenue now tops J$58 billion, earns 14 per cent from Europe, 12 per cent from North America, and less than one per cent from Africa. The rest is made in Jamaica and the Caribbean.