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Express Catering expanding beyond airports

Express Catering Limited plans to expand beyond its captive airport operations at Sangster International in Montego Bay by launching two US franchises inland – Cinnabon and Auntie Anne’s.

“We are excited about this new strategic direction. We are now entering into the community spaces,” Express Catering CEO Ian Dear said in an interview on Tuesday. “We have decided to take a new strategic direction in expanding the business opportunities and the revenue base by getting into the communities and providing brand experiences,” he said.

Express Catering currently operates multiple food stores at the Sangster International Airport. Dear also operates other restaurant enterprises across Jamaica through other companies.

Express Catering’s initial plan was to expand its operations through shops at Jamaica’s second big international airport, Norman Manley in Kingston. Dear said those plans remain intact.

“NMIA is an exciting opportunity that we have been in dialogue with the operators on. We will see where that takes us timewise,” he said.

Express Catering will also continue doing business at Sangster International.

Cinnabon offers sweet bread and bun snacks while Auntie Anne’s offers ornate pretzels and sweet beverages. Express Catering will launch the two brands initially at the airport but then expand beyond that.

As the expected investment, Dear said the budget would be finalised later.

“There is no exact investment figure to share. We are going to evaluate it after we bring it to the exterior of the airport to evaluate how the customer base responds to the products. Then we will work to identify real estate across Jamaica with Montego Bay and Kingston being the initial focus. So, we are still evaluating how many locations we will end up with,” said Dear.

Both franchises will open along with two new local choices, Tastee Patties and Express Catering’s own proprietary Spice Kitchen & Bar, which will feature local cuisine such as fried and jerk chicken.

Express Catering operates about 31 stores at Sangster International, up from 24, prior to the onset of the pandemic when traffic dipped allowing space to expand. Some of its franchise stores include Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, Moe’s Southwest Grill, International Dairy Queen, Quiznos, Nathan’s Hot Dogs, Wendy’s, Starbucks and Domino’s. These are complemented by a number of proprietary and Jamaican food and beverage brands, including Bobsled Caf?, Tastee Patties, Viva Gourmet, Grab N Go, and Groovy Grouper.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, which decimated the world travel market, the food service company was racking up sales of more than US$17 million per year, but its revenue began to decline in the early period of the crisis then cratered to US$4.4 million at year ending May 2021.

Sales recovered this year to US$14.2 million and the company spun from a loss of US$1.7 million to a profit of $1.1 million.

Its new fiscal year also started off with gains at both the top and bottom lines. Earnings in the first quarter ending August improved to US$653,000 on revenue of US$4.9 million.

Express catering is a Jamaica registered company and subsidiary of Margaritaville St Lucia Inc, with its ultimate parent being Margaritaville Caribbean Group. The company has been in operation since 2001.

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