Unicomer Jamaica will be introducing a new line of industrial-grade equipment for the Jamaican market through its retail subsidiary, Courts, which up to now has only catered to a consumer market with household furniture and appliances.
The company told the Financial Gleaner this week that it has created a unit known as Courts Business Solutions to conduct B2B, or business-to-business, transactions.
“We are targeting all companies within the hospitality industry, including hotels, restaurants, and bars, government and private hospitals and schools, BPOs and any other corporate offices, [and finally] small business customers, including dry cleaners and laundromats,” said Unicomer, through its communications unit.
Courts has operated in Jamaica for decades, but it and other regional operations of the furniture retailer were sold to the Unicomer Group in December 2006 after the British-owned chain went bankrupt. At the time, Courts Jamaica, which was a listed company, was taken private by the new owners.
Unicomer Group, which is based in El Salvador, is engaged in both retail and financial services in Latin America and the Caribbean through 25 commercial brands. It operates in 26 countries.
In Jamaica, its brands include Courts Furniture Store, Courts Optical, Lucky Dollar and Ready Cash.
Unicomer said the new industrial-grade goods to be offered through Courts will be a more durable line. The company will be entering a market segment as rival to companies such as Appliance Traders Limited, which caters to businesses, commercial operations, and consumers.
The new Courts Business Solutions already operates in five other territories, namely, Belize, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana and St Lucia.
Included in the new offering are commercial washers, dryers, and irons which “lasts longer in cases of heavy use and are specially built to operate for longer, carry larger loads, etc,” the company said.
Its also offering commercial-grade kitchen equipment for cooking, refrigeration and preparation, and digital signage and hotel-grade televisions.
“The investment is substantial, and we expect B2B to perform well in Jamaica,” said Marketing and Communication Specialist at Unicomer Group, Toni-Ann Latty, but she declined to say how much was being spent on the roll-out.
“We have always carried quality products for the home; however, items required for industrial or business use carry a high price tag,” she said.
Regionally, Unicomer manages a credit portfolio encompassing instalment loans, lines of credit, credit cards, as well as other financial services for two million customers.
Unicomer’s last big expenditure in Jamaica was in 2021, when it upgraded and expanded its distribution centre at Twickenham Close in Kingston at a cost of over US$8 million.
The company disclosed at the time that it had also invested US$1.3 million in the installation of solar energy solutions at its stores at Constant Spring and Cross Roads in Kingston, Linstead and Portmore in St Catherine, Mandeville in Manchester, and at the distribution centre.