First Look

Commerce Minister commends GraceKennedy’s cutting edge Distribution Centre

PROComm | 2013-10-01 00:00:00

Hon. Anthony Hylton, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce has commended GraceKennedy for its state-of-the-art Distribution Centre at Salt Pond Road, St. Catherine, describing it as a “first-world” retail logistics hub, which is the regional pacesetter in commerce. He made the comments while on a tour of the Distribution Centre on Friday, September 27.

The 235,000 square foot GraceKennedy Distribution Centre which was opened three years ago, is the major warehousing, distribution and logistics facility for the company’s local and international operations.

Declaring that he was “very impressed” with the facility, Minister Hylton commented, “I want to congratulate GraceKennedy for being again the leader in this area. What we have witnessed here today is a very sophisticated, modern, high-tech facility utilizing appropriate technologies in good measure, utilizing skilled personnel where that is necessary, utilizing high-technology, all in an effort to create a very efficient operation.”

The Minister expressed the view that when Jamaica’s logistics hub becomes a reality, GraceKennedy and similar companies would be in a better position to expand their operations.

Giving GraceKennedy the thumbs-up for its efficient operations, the Commerce Minister expressed the belief that the company is the regional leader in warehousing, inventory and distribution. “We would love to see more facilities like this with cutting edge technology, and employment opportunities – employing medium and high-level skills,” said Minister Hylton.

Constructed at a cost of some US$24 million, the Distribution Centre can withstand strong hurricanes and earthquakes. It is a major employer of labour, with some160 persons employed at the facility directly to the third party contractor, Logistical Distribution Services Ltd (LDSL) and another approximately 200 haulage contractors and assistants who deliver goods from the facility to customers across the island. The Distribution Centre operates a minimum of 50 hours per week, packing over 7 million cases per year and delivering to over 3,000 customer premises.

Michael Ranglin, Chief Executive Officer, GK Foods explained that owing to this facility, the company is strategically poised to meet increasing local and international consumer demands. He asserted that of the four logistics hubs, which the company has across the globe, the Distribution Centre in Spanish Town is the largest for the company and one of the largest in the region. This facility is nearly twice the size of the GK Distribution Centre in the United Kingdom.

Commenting further on the role and importance of the Distribution Centre in Spanish Town, Mr. Ranglin noted, “This Centre is the chief platform servicing our major export operations. It is a viable base for our expansion into exports. The goods from our five factories islandwide as well as our suppliers are brought here, many are also packaged here and then loaded onto containers here for export.”

He outlined that approximately 40 to 45 percent of overall food sales from GraceKennedy take place on the international market and “approximately half of that comes from this Centre.”

Mr. Ranglin pinpointed some of the other benefits of the facility: “We have the advantage of using the latest technology for our operations right here. So it is a highly automated and state-of-the art operation. Also, the centralized location with regard to the road networks, allows us easy distribution of our goods to other parts of the island.”  According to the GK Foods CEO, the facility is located on land which allows for further expansion to meet any significant increase in demand for exports.

And GraceKennedy has been implementing several initiatives to keep its operations energy-efficient. Mr. Ranglin reports that through a combination of strict conservation and solar energy, the company has exercised its “biggest effort in getting electricity cost down”. He says the company is also exploring the feasibility of using wind energy to complement its source of fuel. So far wind energy has not proven to be as reliable as solar, and therefore the company has delayed placing wind energy as an option in its energy pool, the GK Foods CEO informed.

Francis Kennedy, President of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce and former Director of GraceKennedy, who participated in the tour expressed delight at the success of the facility which he had helped to set up in 2010. While noting that the Distribution Centre is very efficient, he expressed the view that when the logistics hub becomes a reality in Jamaica it will act as a catalyst for more companies to be more efficient in meeting global demands.

Among other persons taking part in Friday’s tour of the Distribution Centre were: Gilroy Graham, Senior General Manager, GK Foods; Stanley Beckford, Chief Risk Officer; GK Foods; Tania Christie, Marketing Manager, Grace Foods; Racquel Fyffe, HR Manager, LDSL; Errol McHayle, Managing Director, LDSL; Patrick Haughton, Receiver Manager, LDSL; Joan Andrea Hutchinson of the Communication Unit, Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce and representatives of the media.

Posted By :Erica James-King

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