Written by Megan Defreitas on April 12, 2023

Seprod Group reaps reward of AS Bryden purchase

Jamaican food and distribution conglomerate, Seprod Group is already reaping benefits from its 2022 acquisition of A S Bryden & Sons Holding, as its annual revenue base moved from US$280 million to US$540 million.
Seprod Group’s chief executive officer Richard Pandohie revealed this information in an interview with Express Business last week at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

In its financials for the fourth quarter, ending December 2022, earnings for the full year jumped 93 per cent above that of 2021 to total over US$ 24 million.
Pandohie said due to the acquisition in June, there was a 25 per cent increase in export sales and the addition of new product lines.
Speaking about some delays, he outlined that AS Bryden is not listed on the Jamaica stock exchange as yet, as the regulated board was disbanded and a new one was just recently formed, which created a backlog, but said it would soon be listed and placed on the Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange, before the end of the year.
When asked how much did Seprod pay for the Bryden Group, he chuckled and said the cost will be all known when the company is listed.
Giving insight in how Bryden was acquired, Pandohie highlighted that when the family-run business approached the Seprod Group to acquire the business there was no hesitation because their food and beverage, along with hardware and household products are of a high quality.
He said the group knew it was a right fit for its brand and it would have helped bolster earnings.
The new executive quickly made it clear that there were no layoffs following the acquisition.
“Something I want to point out is if Bryden was sold to any Trinidadian company, there would have been massive layoffs because they would have their team already.
Selling to an outside company, which equals no layoffs and I keep giving credit to former shareholders for doing that. They protected their staff,” he observed.
The Seprod Group also noted that during the pandemic Bryden lay off people and the Group told them to call the workers back, as a company cannot grow without people.
He said about 54 per cent of AS Bryden, which has over 1,500 employees have already taken up an offer to own shares in the company, and the future is looking bright.
Pandohie noted the company is seeking to ensure that it benefits from the synergies from all parts of the business.
Asked if Seprod was looking to acquire any more companies in Trinidad he said the company focus now is stabilising the AS Bryden acquisition, but noted that if something else comes up Seprod would consider it.
“Are we looking at more acquisitions; the answer is yes… once they add value, we would not just be buying companies just for so. If anything, good comes up in Guyana, Barbados, we will be looking at it, as the Group is looking at regional acquisitions.
“But the main priority now is to ensure Bryden delivers what it is supposed to,” he remarked.
Pandohie revealed the increase in revenue and export sales did not come without challenges as in October 2021, a fire gutted Seprod’s warehousing space, and distribution operations with an estimated damage of over US$6 million.
He said thankfully the group recovered from the fire and the acquisition of AS Bryden came in at the right time.
“After the unprecedented challenges that we experienced over the last two to three years, including a pandemic, supply chain disruptions, and the fire, it is fair to say that we see a far more positive environment.
As an organisation we have therefore become more agile and responsive to future challenges.” Pandohie said.
Shedding some light on the Group’s plan’s this year the executive said it will soon be constructing an ASB logistics and distribution warehouse, in Chaguanas.
“The design has been completed and we are going to tender in July. It would take between 12 to 18 months to be completed. So, all of Bryden’s logistics would now be consolidated in one place and not 12 warehouses in different parts of the country. The investment will be over US$25 million,” Pandohie revealed.
The CEO also told Express Business that Seprod expects to expand its manufacturing line in this country as the energy costs and the people capability makes it a good place to produce goods.
“Trinidad and Tobago has more of a manufacturing culture, whereas Jamaica is really about distribution sales.” Pandohie said.
Asked whether his company continues to experience supply chain issues that drive inflationary challenges with respect to food items, Pandohie noted it is improving gradually, which means companies can start reducing their costs on items.
A concern he had was the delays in getting goods from the regional ports, which he said must improve, as gone are the days of paper, as most everything can be done online.
Another concern is the cost of living that has gone up for consumers. Pandohie said if the consumer does not have the ability to spend it means that many products would stay on the shelves, and that would not be good business for owners.
He also highlighted that food shortage can also become an issue and regional leaders must pay close attention to this possibility.
“For the last couple of years, food shelves in the US were empty. Food shortage is going to be a massive issue and I do not know why people are not alarmed about it. If big countries did not want to give our small countries vaccines for Covid… what makes you think they would want to help us when we need food?” the executive questioned.

Trinidad Express
April 12, 2023

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