Success for Bico

Edwin Thirlwell (centre) and his management team.
Edwin Thirlwell (centre) and his management team.

Bico Limited has emerged as a success story in an otherwise bleak economic landscape during the financial year October 2011 and September 30, 2012.

Chairman Edwin Thirlwell made this disclosure yesterday during a press conference at the company’s headquarters on the Harbour Road, the City.

Thirlwell told members of the Press that the company was going through the final stages of recovery after the fire of 2009 and pointed out that Bico was in the process of removing production from Canada, because the company could not continue to operate with the high cost of freight from Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The chairman explained that the late Prime Minister David Thompson had given the company a waiver on the bound rate so that they could bring in ice cream from Canada while the company coping with a fire that crippled its operations. However, that concession has not been.

As a consequence, said Thirwell explained, Bico then shifted its manufacturing activity to such countries as Trinidad and Tobago, Dominican Republic, Suriname and Cuba.

He pointed out that the company was asked to pay US $7,500 in freight charges for a 40-foot container of ice cream out of the Canadian market, while the ice cream factory and a 500-pallet warehouse were in place but remained empty.

Thirlwell stressed that until management was sure that the factory would be viable, they could not invest the $5 million to put the finishing touches on the inside of the structure.†He pointed out that there was some reluctance on the part of governments to reimpose the bound rate following the successful lawsuit a cement plant brought against the Jamaican government in the Caribbean Court of Justice.

Thirlwell noted that Caribbean governments were unsure if they were on safe ground to impose the bound rate on products sourced from outside the region.

“The manufacturers of ice cream in Trinidad are screaming because they are being invaded by ice cream from Europe and other countries. Manufacturers do not have any economies of scale and we do not have the benefit of any subsidies.

“Barbados is one of the few countries in the world where dairy products were not being subsidised directly or indirectly. Europe, Canada and the USA were prime cases where subsidies were in place on dairy products.

“Any of us in Barbados who were using dairy products are operating with one hand tied behind our backs because we do not have subsidies. We have to make ends meet without any assistance,” Thirlwell said.

Thirlwell noted that countries within the region were making representation to the Council for Trade and Economic Development to find out if that body could persuade governments in the region to re-impose the bound rate.

The chairman pointed out that since the company had put alternative arrangements in place it had moved from a $2 million loss last year, to a profit of $315,282 before an “exceptional item” of $339,837 resulted in a net loss of $24,555 after tax.

He explained that the “exceptional item” arose as a result of a deposit the company had made to a company to carry out specific studies. The chairman disclosed that the company only recovered $40,000 of the full amount it had deposited and additionally, Bico was experiencing certain challenges in accessing compensation from their insurers.

Thirwell further disclosed that all their plans came to a “screeching halt” when it was discovered that the bound rates were not in place. He pointed out that no financial institution would have given the company access to the funds needed to complete the reconstruction in a playing field that was uneven, and charged that in spite of the lofty rhetoric about economic cooperation in the region, every country was looking after its own survival in a hostile economic environment.†(NC)†

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