Food distributor Everything Fresh Limited, EFresh, has shifted a sizeable portion of its inventory from its headquarters in Kingston to Bog Walk, St Catherine, in a restructuring exercise that’s aimed at driving down costs.
Last August, the company quietly undertook an expansion of The Meat Experts Limited’s operations in Bog Walk and on completion in February, transferred all hotel distribution operations and stockholding into the expanded facility.
Chairman of EFresh Gregory Pullen did not disclose the size of investment for the expansion, only that it was “frugal and efficient” and included the repurposing of equipment from the Kingston plant.
Overall, the project is said to have afforded the company three times as much cold storage space and the doubling of the dry goods area. The expanded location is expected to cut down on the turnaround time for supplying products to the north coast, which is Jamaica’s primary tourism belt.
More than 50 per cent of EFresh’s business in Jamaica comes from the hotel sector.
“Because it’s factory space and not warehousing, the Bog Walk expansion was not as costly. So our average cost per square foot has decreased, but our total square footage has increased,” Pullen told the Financial Gleaner.
As for the Kingston head office, the company has downsized the space it occupies by a third. It serves primarily as administrative offices, but EFresh also continues to serve retail business clients, supermarkets and restaurants it has contracts with from that location.
Everything Fresh imports and distributes dairy products, meats, seafood, fruits, vegetables, and dry goods in Jamaica. The company, which was incorporated in 2003, started with the lease of its current registered location, 78 Marcus Garvey Drive in Kingston, and in January 2019 acquired The Meat Experts, which provided access to increased cold storage.
It also holds majority 80 per cent interest in a Bahamian company that it acquired between June 2021 and April 2022.
“Transferring the goods to Bog Walk has afforded us significant cost savings. We are now using less of the prime commercial Marcus Garvey space, which comes at a premium rate,” Pullen said, without stating the projected savings.
As business at the Bog Walk plant picks up, Pullen says the next step is to incorporate more office space for administrative services.
“The restructuring was necessary because for FY2023, we are expecting a minimum 30 per cent increase in sales over 2022, much of which is expected to come from the tourism industry. Given that our hotel business will be carried out from the Bog Walk location, it just makes sense to have a few offices there as well,” Pullen said.
In the quarter ending March, EFresh’s earnings swelled to $35 million, a 386 per cent improvement, compared to $7.2 million for the similar period of 2022.
Revenue also jumped 58 per cent to $846 million, most of which was generated from the Jamaican operations. Overall, it’s the best first-quarter performance the company has had dating back to 2019.
“The outlook for the remainder of 2023 is favourable. Many hotels are projecting high levels of occupancy for the upcoming summer season. As such, our group of companies will continue to keep up with demand of the tourism industry by providing quality products at competitive prices. We will also continue to grow sales to the retail sector through marketing and promotions,” EFresh said.