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CPJ caps recovery year with new retail store and online sales platforms

Food trader Caribbean Producers Jamaica Limited, CPJ, is capping a profitable year with the opening of a third store and expansion of its e-commerce platform.

The new CPJ Market Drax Hall did its first day of business on Tuesday October 18, following a US$400,000 investment in its set-up, said CPJ chairman and interim CEO, Mark Hart.

The company also put in a cold storage facility on location to make product readily available to nearby hotels and restaurants, he added.

Hart said the opening of the new location is one of three moves aimed at capitalising on the forward momentum that the company has been experiencing since the reopening of the tourist industry as it recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic. The other two moves concern the launch of two platforms: for for B2B or business to business transactions and the other a business to customer or “B2C platform that is essentially an online store that’s more tailored to individual customers,” Hart said.

The company ramped up its inventory and added three refrigerated trucks to facilitate deliveries of orders received through the platforms and has been working with social media influencers to raise the profile of the online store.

The size of the investment in the online platforms was not disclosed. Hart said they were developed in-house.

As for the B2B site, small and medium-sized customers using the platform have access to their purchasing history and ordering recommendations. Companies can also see their payables, as well as CPJ’s inventory.

Sales resurgence

Caribbean Producers recently released its audited accounts showing a strong resurgence in annual sales from US$58 million to US$120 million.

The company also spun from a loss of US$2.52 million to profit of US$7.72 million as at June 2022.

During the year, CPJ grew total assets by 33 per cent, reflecting higher inventory levels, as well as expanded receivables. Receivables relate to goods sold but not yet paid for.

Hart said the increase in inventory levels, which doubled from US$21 million to US$40 million, was deliberate to avoid stockouts amid ongoing uncertainties surrounding shipping delays.

CPJ has also moved to restructure its existing debt, issuing a a US$13 million of Unsecured Fixed Rate Notes in the process. The bond is priced at seven per cent and matures in five years, but interest will rise to 10 per cent in the event of a default.

“That was just a restructuring of existing debt into a tradable security. It’s a challenging time to access capital, but we were able to get the job done through our financial advisers Mayberry,” Hart said.

CPJ also said it repaid US$8.4 million of its debt during the year.

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