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Barita Looking To A Future Built On A New Digital Platform As It Seeks To Be Resolute In Making Barita More Accessible, Convenient And Customer Focused.

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Mark Myers Chairman Barita Investments Limited (“Barita” or “the Group”) has released the following Group unaudited financial statements for the nine months of the financial year 2022.

The results reflect the investments being made in building the capabilities necessary to execute our strategic growth initiatives.

Strategic Highlights
We continued to remain focused on strategy execution for this transformative year, with highlights for the quarter including:

• Continuing to advance our digital agenda, completing the implementation of phase one of our customer relationship management solution and remaining well on schedule with the transformation of our core operating system that we spoke about in our 2020 and 2021 APO prospectuses. We also made significant improvements to our Barita Online platform, allowing our customers to request loans, and buy and redeem unit trust shares and equites at any time.

• Revamping and relaunching our Real Estate Unit Trust product to make it more accessible through a reduction in unit price and minimum investment (through a 10 to I split), as well as shorter lock-up periods. We subsequently allowed our clients access to the assets in our managed special purpose vehicle, MJR Real Estate Holdings (MJR), through this fund.

• Establishing our Premium Wealth and Corporate Solutions unit, which is working with our Investment Banking, Treasury and Asset Management teams to develop offerings for our institutional and high net worth clients.

• Maintaining the strategic priority of talent development and recruitment. We are especially pleased that our five young high potential analysts have successfully completed their first rotation through various business units within Barita and our affiliated companies in our two-year Cornerstone Analyst Program, which was launched in January 2022.

• Continuing the journey towards reorganization under a financial holding company, as required by the Banking Services Act under which our affiliated merchant bank operates.

• Continuing, through the Barita Foundation, to partner with government agencies, NGOs and with the Barita team to plan, sponsor and execute our corporate social outreach agenda aimed largely at young people in their education and entrepreneurial endeavours.

As we look to the future, we are resolute in making Barita more accessible, convenient and customer focused. We believe that digital platforms will help us achieve that end. We are in the first phase of that journey, and we will accelerate our build-out as we increase our capabilities in this regard.

As we navigated the uncertain environment, Barita continued to prioritize its liquidity and capital management, and remained focused on executing on its key strategic initiatives including flagship investments and a technology overhaul of the company.

Operating Performance

Against the backdrop of an increasingly uncertain operating environment, Net Profit for the nine-months period came in at $3.8 billion, a 4% increase relative to the FY21 outturn of $3.7 billion. The profit outturn translates to earnings per share of $3.18, which is 6% lower than the comparable period in FY 2021.

Barita registered net operating revenue of $7.2 billion for the nine months of FY 2022, representing a $535 million (8%) increase versus the prior year period.

The Group’s revenue base for 9M FY 2022 was comprised of:

Net Interest Income:

Net Interest Income (NII) reflected a $287 million (39%) increase year-over-year (“YoY”).

Net Interest Income (NII) reflected a $235 million (20%) increase year-over-year (“YoY”) to $1.4 billion for the year-to-date (YTD) period.

During the April – June quarter in particular, local market liquidity conditions were tight as a consequence of the Central Bank’s policy actions, which in turn led to higher interest rates on funding liabilities across the securities sector.

However, our continued focus on growing the Group’s alternative investments, credit and fixed income portfolios provided a bulwark for NII, even as the repo funding rates rose.

Our net interest income is fundamentally linked to both local and global monetary policy measures that Central Banks are using to target the persistent levels of inflation. In that regard, we cannot be sure whether inflation is likely to abate soon, thus providing a basis for Central Banks to unwind their restrictive policy actions. As a result, NII is likely to remain a challenging item to grow in the ensuing quarters. Notwithstanding, we will continue to focus our attention on the pursuit of alternative investment strategies aimed at continuing to grow and diversify our investment portfolio.

Non-Net Interest Income:

Non-interest income reflected a modest year-over-year increase of 5% or $300 million, to $5.8 billion relative to $5.5 billion in the comparable period in FY 2021 (“9M FY 2021”). The increase in non-interest income was principally driven by a 163% increase in gain on investment activities and dividend income.

The details of our non-interest income are as follows:

Gain on Investment Activities:
The $1.6 billion increase in this line item was driven primarily by a combination of gains on our traditional proprietary trading portfolio, and those associated with exposure to alternative investments, specifically real estate and private equity through equity call options. This line item has displayed significant resilience against the backdrop of persistent inflation and the concomitant central bank policy actions that continue to challenge returns on traditional marketable securities. Therefore, our trading strategy with respect to our traditional proprietary trading portfolio continues to emphasize maintaining ample amounts of liquidity so that we can be positioned to take advantage of significant mispricing of securities. The addition of alternative investment exposures to our portfolio during preceding quarters has served us well as they provided revenue diversification against the negative effects of the year-to-date declines that have generally been seen in the prices of traditional asset classes.

Fees & Commission Income:
Fees and commission income declined by 7% to $2.5 billion relative to the corresponding FY 2021 result of $2.7 billion. This line item is comprised substantially of fees generated from our asset management and investment banking business lines. Revenues in this category declined primarily due to lower performance-based management fees in the asset management business. The outturn for the comparative period last year benefitted materially from the robust recovery of certain asset classes following the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Notwithstanding, the Group will continue its efforts to grow assets under management and capital markets activity through consistent deepening of our capabilities as well as building liquidity to fund investment banking deals.

Foreign Exchange (“FX”) Trading and Translation Gains:
The Group registered foreign exchange trading and translation gains of $602 million in the period, which is a $1.1 billion reduction or 66% relative to the corresponding period in FY 2021. The decrease was attributable to the effects of continued volatility experienced in the local foreign exchange market during the period.

Operating Expenses:

Non-interest Expenses for the nine-months of FY 2022 rose by 11% to $2.7 billion versus $2.4 billion for the corresponding FY 2021 period. The YOY rise in expenses is driven by increases in staff costs (by $233 million or 25%) and administrative expenses (by $79 million or 6%), while the Group’s expected credit losses (“ECL”) decreased to $93 million relative to $138 million compared to the same 2021 period, due largely to changes in the company’s overall portfolio mix coupled with the adjustment of assumptions underpinning the ECL calculations.

The increase in operating expenses reflects investment in the capabilities required to execute on the strategic growth initiatives that we have communicated. Furthermore, despite the rise in operating expenses, the Group’s efficiency ratio remained fairly steady at 37% versus 36% for the corresponding FY 2021 period.

Our year-to-date performance was achieved in the continued context of the inflation inducing impacts of supply-chain and labour market dynamics, which were exacerbated by the Ukraine/Russia conflict; and the corresponding price disrupting and margin tightening effects of global interest rate policy responses.

Balance Sheet Highlights

As at June 2022 the company had a combined increase of $18.1 billion in funding from repurchase agreements and secured investment notes relative to June 2021.

This, along with the net $7.1 billion increase in shareholder’s equity, largely funded the $25.7 billion growth in Barita’s asset base. Some of the key line items on the balance sheet are discussed in brief below:

Assets

Total Assets:
Barita’s total assets stood at $110.0 billion as at June 2022, representing a $25.8 billion or 31% increase over June 2021. This increase is largely the result of a $14.8 billion growth in marketable securities and $10.0 billion in loan receivables.

Pledged Assets and Marketable Securities:
Pledged Assets and Marketable Securities, combined, grew by $18.5 billion or 30% to $80.0 billion to account for 73% of the Company’s balance sheet as at June 2022. These lines represent substantively the Company’s investment portfolio, which is largely comprised of credit assets to include, local, regional & international government and corporate bonds.

Loans Receivables:
Barita’s exposures to loan receivables increased by $10.0 billion or 347% to $12.9 billion. Barita’s exposure to loans is largely comprised of secured credit facilities, including margin loans, which are extended to our clients.

Liabilities:

Total Liabilities: To fund the increase in total assets, we grew our total liabilities YOY by 35% or $18.6 billion to $72.6 billion.

Repurchase Agreements: The Company’s funding from Repurchase Agreements rose by $8.4 billion or 18% to $54.6 billion as of June 2022 which was 75% of the Company’s liabilities. Secured investment notes rose by $9.3 billion or 196% to $14.1 billion, which represented 19% of the company’s total liabilities.

Shareholders’ Equity:
The equity base of the Group grew significantly YOY, rising by 31% or $8.8 billion to close the period at $37.5 billion.

The outturn in shareholders’ equity was largely a result of the following:
• The Company’s September 2021 APO, which increased share capital by $10.8 billion (partly offset by treasury share transactions);
• An increase in retained earnings, net of dividends declared during the period; and a $2.3 billion reduction in fair value reserve.

The extent of negative fair value reserves was a function of the market volatility during the quarter, which drove fair value changes in key fixed income assets. Due to the asset diversification strategy being pursued by us, the reduction in fair value reserves was relatively moderate, at 6% of our capital base.

Capitalization, Stress Testing & Resilience to Current Headwinds

Barita continues to maintain robust capital and liquidity positions, both of which have demonstrated significant strength and resilience to withstand adverse market conditions. This is even more relevant in the current rising interest rate environment, which continues to place downward pressure on duration sensitive fixed income asset prices.

Capital management is integral to our risk management and, as such, we frequently subject our capital metrics to robust stress testing as we deploy our strategy and plan for the future. We remained well above regulatory requirements, with a capital to risk weighted asset ratio of 44%, more than 4 times the 10% requirement; and remained well above these requirements under our internal stress tests. This, combined with our underweight exposure to high beta securities, makes us significantly resilient to market downturns and has positioned us well to execute on key strategies, while allowing us to take opportunities that may arise.

Closing Remarks
In our 2020 and 2021 prospectuses we outlined our intended use of funds. Thus far:

• More than $3 billion has been directed to support various investment banking type transactions, which also straddle other areas of the business such as alternatives and structured finance

• The overhaul of the real estate Fund and the seeding of MJR accounts for approximately $10 billion

• Our private credit outlay has been approximately $5 billion

• The technology upgrade, to which we have committed approximately $850 million, is on-course

Barita continues to prospect for opportunities to expand its local and regional footprint.

Furthermore, we continue to focus on generating significant returns, particularly for our minority shareholders, who have seen a more than 1,175% increase in the value of their shareholding between September 2018 and June 2022. Meanwhile, the governance that serves to safeguard the interest of all our shareholders and other stakeholders, has also been deliberately strengthened, culminating in our Corporate Governance Index score increasing from “CC” to “A” during the same period.

We are confident that the strategic initiatives that we are pursuing will continue to redound to the benefit of all our shareholders, and more broadly all our stakeholders. I’d like to take this opportunity to also thank our various stakeholders for their continued support and, indeed their contribution to our success.

The confidence demonstrated by the investing public through our multiple capital raising activities, and the confidence demonstrated by our clients; complemented by the outstanding output of our talented and dedicated staff have been key tenets of our success. Our commitment to you is to continue working tirelessly to maintain your confidence as we revolutionize your relationship with money and deliver differential value to you, our shareholders and clients.

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Blue Power Group Q1 Earnings Affected By Disruptions To Supply Chain And Unprecedented Increases In Raw Material Prices.

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Jeffrey Hall Chairman Blue Power Group Has Released The Following Report For The First Quarter Ended July 31, 2022

Blue Power Group generated revenues of $214 million and earned net profit of $7 million for the first quarter ended July 31, 2022 (the “First Quarter”).

Blue Power delivered outstanding growth in sales volumes and revenues, in line with its plan to develop and diversify the customer base.

Earnings in the First Quarter were affected by disruptions to the supply chain and unprecedented increases in raw material prices, that we expect to normalize during the year.

Revenue Growth

Revenues for Blue Power grew 85% during the First Quarter, relative to the same period in the prior year. We experienced revenue growth in all of our main product categories including our bath soap lines, specialty soaps and our laundry soap business. Revenue growth came from existing and new customers and saw the group gaining market share locally and re-enforcing its reputation as a leading private label manufacturer.

Earnings Performance

Despite the strong overall revenue performance, the Group faced challenges in the First Quarter. Importantly, one-off gains on the sale of investments and foreign exchange gains that formed part of our finance income last year were not repeated in the First Quarter of this year. In addition, our gross margins suffered as a result of dramatic increases in raw materials prices, challenges to the actual availability of products from some of our sources, and a spike in logistics costs (particularly for products originating in Asia).

The market for vegetable oils – a basic input in soap production – was disrupted in the early part of the calendar year due to the war in the Ukraine. Logistics costs were affected by the impact of COVID on the global supply chain. Our key inputs have long lead times for procurement and shipping and although the market has now clearly showed signs of normalizing, our First Quarter margins were adversely affected.

The combined effect of these challenges was a reduction in net profits from $46 million in the prior year first quarter to $7 million this year.

Note should be made that in November 2021, in accordance with accounting standards the accounting for Blue Power Groups investment in Lumber Depot changed from equity accounting to share of associate company. With this change, total comprehensive income stood at $7 million when compared to $69 million in prior year.

Outlook

An important part of our plan for profitable business growth, is our commitment to efficiency and innovation. During the quarter we continued our capital projects to expand our capacity and productivity and to give our manufacturing plant more flexibility in the sources of raw material. We expect to see the results of this investment in the second half of 2023. We also secured the long-term expansion prospects for the business with the acquisition of a two-acre plot of land that is adjacent to our existing facility.

The site includes a building that is suitable for renovation as well as land space with excellent development potential for a purpose-built industrial facility. We
expect to complete our development plan for the property during the course of the year.

The Blue Power Group’s balance sheet, investment portfolio and liquidity remain strong. This has allowed us to increase our inventory levels to manage some of the supply chain disruptions. Our investment in Lumber Depot Limited, which is a significant part of our holdings, performed satisfactorily in the First Quarter.

We continue to be optimistic about the competitive position and growth prospects for our business in Jamaica, as well as the opportunity to develop new export markets. We are also well prepared to diversify the business through opportunistic investments in related businesses and in our real estate.

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Express Catering To Roll-Out New Concepts — Bob Marley One Love, Freshens And Bento Sushi, As Upcoming Winter Season Promises To Be The Biggest Since COVID-19.

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Ian Dear Chief Executive Officer Express Catering Limited has released the following First Quarter 2023 Interim Report To Shareholders of the company for fiscal 2023.

Total passengers accessing the departure lounge of the Sangster International Airport during the Quarter was just below Six Hundred and Twenty-three Thousand or 37.44% higher than the similar period last year, when just over Four Hundred and Thirty-Two Thousand passenger entered the departure lounge.

This produced revenue of US$4.91 million compared to US$3.48 million in the similar period last year. We are very encouraged by the continuous increase over prior year totals and expect this trend to continue for the rest of fiscal 2023.

Net profit for the Quarter returned US$652,841 for an EPS of 0.040 US Cents per share. This is compared to a net profit of US$565,068 and EPS of 0.035 US Cents per share in the similar period in the prior year.

The company continues to be challenged by the increase in input costs due to logistical challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the ongoing war in Ukraine. We have initiated cost containment measures where possible. Major suppliers have been engaged for longer-term contractual prices for key ingredients as well as exploring more price effective alternatives.

Construction work on the revamped post-security food and beverage lounge at the airport is ongoing. An additional US$298,424 was spent on the project during the Quarter. There was a soft transitioning into the new food court with some Concepts opening in March 2022; work on relocating the other concepts is ongoing. Supply chain issues associated with COVID-19 continue to negatively affect the progress of this project, however, work on the second phase is in progress and is scheduled for completion by the close of calendar 2022.

The upcoming winter season promises to be the biggest since COVID-19. We plan to welcome it with the full roll-out of the rest of Concepts — Bob Marley One Love, Freshens and Bento Sushi.

We remain optimistic about Jamaica’s buoyant tourism stop-over arrivals surpassing 2019 totals.

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New Subsidiary, Scope, Showing Promise For Growth, But Still Negatively Impacting LAB Nine Months Performance To July 2022

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Kimala Bennett Chief Executive Officer for The Limners And Bards Limited has released the following Unaudited Key Performance Highlights for the Nine Months Ended July 31, 2022.

For the period ended July 31, 2022, the Company performed in accordance with budget.

The results of our new subsidiary company, Scope Caribbean Limited (“Scope”), which consists of staff costs and training, are fully integrated into the consolidated accounts. While Scope recorded a $2.5 million loss for the nine months, we have seen greater take-up of the services offered and we expect more clients to come on board. We anticipate profitable returns in the coming year.

Revenue for the nine-months was $1.1 billion, up 18.0% compared to $942.0 million for the corresponding period last year.
The revenue growth is attributable to increases in the company’s core business, media placement (up $94.3 million or 18.7%) and advertising agency (up $57.1 million or 53.1%). Production was flat when compared to prior year.

Gross profit increased by $95.1 million or 33.4% over the corresponding nine – month period in the prior year. Due to tight cost management, gross profit margin was at 34.2% compared to the 30.2% in the prior period.

There was a 1.5% growth in Net profit which increased by $2.1 million to $144.3 million for the nine months compared to $142.1 million in the corresponding period in the prior year. The increase in net profit is attributable to increased revenue and gross profit.

This Group result is impacted by the $2.5 million loss recorded by Scope over this period. The net profit includes Finance income of $2.9 million compared to $20.5 million recorded in the corresponding period of the previous year. For a fair comparison, we exclude Scope and Investment Income and note that the adjusted net profit is $143.9M vs $121.6M, a 18.3% increase over the prior year.

Administration expenses have increased by $70.2 million, or 44.6% in comparison to the previous nine – months period. These increases are primarily attributable to staff costs (as the company builds capacity to adequately meet the future demands), repairs and maintenance of production equipment and depreciation and amortization costs.

The Consolidated balance sheet shows total assets increasing by $165.7 million or 20.0% to $992.7 million compared to $826.9 million in the corresponding period last year.

Current assets increased by $171.3 million primarily because of increases in receivables ($265.5 million). Cash and cash equivalent decreased by $81.5 million mainly due to capital purchases and payment of dividend. The increase in receivables is mainly due to increase in revenue.
We continue to have tight monitoring and controls over the receivables.

Outlook
As we enter the post-COVID era we still continue to observe relevant protocols and our team members continue to be vigilant in order to protect themselves and our clients. Scope is showing promise for growth and we continue to explore all avenues as we place Scope in a position to maximise returns based on the opportunities that arise.

We continue with Our Work from Home program which has proven effective as we continue to minimize exposure of our staff and at the same time maintaining team productivity and engagement.

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Lumber Depot Generates Profits Of $48M On Revenues Of $400M For July 2022 First Quarter .

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Jeffrey Hall Chairman Lumber Depot Limited, Has Released The Following Report On Operations For Quarter Ended July 31, 2022 (The “First Quarter”).

Our annualized return on equity continues to be strong and exceeds 35%. The business is highly cash generative and earned cash from operations of over $70 million in the First Quarter and despite its capital investment programme, has no long‐term debt.

During the First Quarter, our customer base reacted to uncertain economic conditions, including high interest rates and a spike in commodity prices for certain key hardware items. This led to some softening in sales (down 4% relative to the prior year) and some compression in gross margins (20% in the First Quarter, relative to 24% in the first quarter of the prior year). As a result of these factors, First Quarter net profit was down $23 million relative to the prior year.

Lumber Depot operates a full‐service hardware store in Papine that serves the needs of large and small‐ scale building contractors, as well as homeowners doing construction projects, renovations and repairs.

The Lumber Depot business has been in operation for over 20 years and during this time has established a market leading position in the communities we directly serve and a strong reputation for excellent service and good value across the wider corporate area.

Despite the challenges generally associated with the COVID 19 pandemic, higher interest rates, supply chain disruptions, high commodity prices and a spike in logistics costs, Lumber Depot has continued to trade positively and to deliver strong results.

Our strategy is to consistently offer competitive prices on our products and to maintain our service standards and inventory availability while prioritizing the safety of our customers and staff. We have been generally successful with this and in turn this has improved our standing with key customers.

We consider our location in Papine to be an important part of our success. The facility in Papine is now owned by the company. Papine is a vibrant and fast‐growing university community that also serves as a main access point to the St. Andrew hills. Our location is immediately outside the most trafficked part of the community, is purpose built and well established. The plan is to further develop the facility in Papine through continuous investments in our physical space, operating systems, plant and equipment and our service team.

Over the year ahead, we will continue to judiciously manage our cash and inventory levels with a view to paying dividends and improving shareholder returns while allowing the business to seize opportunities for investment and growth that we expect to arise in Jamaica when economic normalcy returns.

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Jamaica Producers Group Delivers Strong Half Year Results Increasing Revenues By 26%

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C.H. Johnston Chairman Jamaica Producers Group Limited Has Released The Following Report For The 26-Week Period Ended July 2, 2022.

For the 26-week period ended July 2, 2022 (the “First Half”), Jamaica Producers Group Limited (“JP”) delivered strong results. JP earned consolidated net profits of $1.6 billion from revenues of $14.4 billion. JP increased revenues by 26% over the prior year, with sales and earnings growth in both our business segments – Logistics & Infrastructure (“L&I”) and Food & Drink (“F&D”). Year-to-date net profit attributable to shareholders was $864 million, an increase of 42% over the prior year.

JP Logistics & Infrastructure
The L&I Division is a diversified, multinational logistics group and accounts for the major share of the Group’s net assets and, in turn, its profits. The Division includes our interests in port terminal operations, warehousing and third-party logistics services (Kingston Wharves Limited), freight consolidation and forwarding (JP Shipping Services and Miami Freight & Shipping) and liner services (Geest Line). The Group’s logistics services all have a Caribbean connection but collectively serve a wide range of global markets.

The L&I Division generated profit before finance cost and taxation for the 2022 First Half of $1.9 billion, a 13% increase over the prior year. Divisional revenues of $5.7 billion were up 24% over the same period in the prior year.

The improved performance reflects our strategy to build a diversified Caribbean logistics platform through business development initiatives, capacity expansion and select acquisitions. Our recently acquired UK-based joint venture shipping line — Geest Line — and US-based freight consolidation business — Miami Freight & Shipping – both contributed to the improved profitability of the Division.

JP Food & Drink
JP’s F&D Division is the largest contributor to the revenues of the Group. The Division earned year-to-date profits before finance cost and taxation for the First Half of $283 million on revenues of $8.6 billion. Earnings increased 72% and revenue increased 27% relative to the prior year. The F&D Division comprises our portfolio of businesses that are engaged in farming, manufacturing, distribution and retail of a wide range of food and drink. The Division has production facilities in Europe (the Netherlands and Spain) and the Caribbean (Jamaica and the Dominican Republic) and operates a distribution centre in the United States.

Our JP Farms business continues to lead in banana and pineapple production in Jamaica. Our range of specialty food and drink products includes fresh juices, tropical snacks, frozen foods, fresh fruit and Caribbean rum-based baked goods. A.L. Hoogesteger Fresh Specialist B.V. (“Hoogesteger”) is the largest contributor to the revenues and profits of the Division. This business is a market leader in fresh juice in Northern Europe and serves as a co-packer of juice for major supermarket and food service entities in the Netherlands, Belgium, Scandinavia and Switzerland.

During the year, the Division experienced material increases in costs associated with raw material commodities, personnel and logistics. These cost increases must be recovered, to the extent possible, through increases in selling prices. The initiative to adjust prices to align with market conditions is now well underway, but during the First Half we experienced some margin compression in the instances where we delayed price increases to balance any uncertainty in demand or limits to consumer confidence. However, the adverse impact of reduced margins was more than offset by the benefit of solid volume growth.

Outlook
Jamaica Producers Group Limited has been organised to generate revenues from a diverse range of business lines and, importantly, a diverse range of markets. Our Food & Drink business includes premium and travel retail products, as well as everyday snacks and basic food items. These businesses are aligned to general consumer trends such as the focus on health, convenience and provenance, and they serve markets as diverse as the Caribbean and Caribbean diaspora, Northern Europe, North America and Caribbean travel retail and hospitality.

Our logistics businesses, also operating in Europe, the USA and the Caribbean, handle a wide range of commodities and service a large number of origin and destination markets. Services provided range from shipping and freight forwarding to stevedoring, terminal operations, cold storage and logistics.

We see the diversity of our business as a strength. We are of the view, however, that inflation, supply chain shocks and disruptions to business confidence arising out of war, health-related restrictions, logistics challenges and adverse macroeconomic conditions all present general business challenges in the short term. Our strategy is to build on our core business capabilities in Food & Drink and Logistics & Infrastructure through active engagement and strategic alignment with key customers, efficiency enhancing capital investment projects and selective acquisitions. Core capital investments in our terminal, cranes and warehousing at Kingston Wharves are designed to expand capacity, gain market share and drive
efficiency in our logistics businesses.

Investment in food grade packaging lines, information technology systems, efficiency and hygiene, and health and safety are all expected to bolster the Food &Drink Division in the months ahead.

Based on our acquisition strategy, we will continue to identify other logistics services that support trade with the Caribbean, and Food & Drink businesses in markets that present definite new growth opportunities for the Group. With shareholders’ equity of $18.4 billion (an increase of 9% relative to the prior year) and cash and investments of $10.9 billion, we believe that the JP Group has the balance sheet strength to support this strategy.

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