Runaway profits for BICO

Despite challenging market conditions and having put its export plans on hold, local ice cream manufacturer BICO is reporting a whopping 82 per cent improvement in its after tax profit for the financial year ending September 30, 2014.

Net income for the year was $343,422, compared to $188,496 the previous year.

Executive chairman Edwin Thirlwell told reporters today there was a 14 per cent hike in ice cream sales and an eight per cent decrease in energy costs.

Delivering the financial update during a media conference at the company’s Harbour Road, St Michael location this morning, he noted that sales for the first two months of the current financial year were already up by about six per cent, compared to the same period last year.

Thirlwell also expressed confidence that the company’s investment of $1 million in refurbishment of the Harbour Cold Store would eventually pay dividends, while noting that revenue from the one million cubic foot facility was down between 25 and 40 per cent — a reflection of the reduction in cargo volumes at the Bridgetown Port.

However, he said while things were looking “brown” for that facility, he remained confident that in the future they would improve.

He stressed that the company was not rolling over and playing dead amid the challenging economic climate, but rather pulling out all the stops to increase market share while maintaining prices to increase volume.

BICO’s Executive Chairman Edwin Thirlwell
BICO’s Executive Chairman Edwin Thirlwell

“I am sure it hasn’t gone unnoticed that in the past year and even now we have realized that the market is very price sensitive and money is in short supply and therefore we are just stopping short of doing cartwheels and swinging from the chandeliers in order to keep our sales buoyant,” said Thirlwell, adding that the company has to “save” itself in the current economic environment.

He also pointed out that the company’s was proceeding with internal restructuring, while giving the assurance that there should be no negative impact on employment unless individuals willingly chose to part with the company.

“We will continue to restructure as we go along because although we are seeing bright light and we could say it could be worse, the future remains uncertain. So you can see that to spend $1 million in upgrading the Habour Cold Store at a time like this is a measured gesture of confidence in the future,” said Thirlwell.

He stressed that the ongoing restructuring exercise at the ice cream company would not affect employment but said the 114-year-old company had some practices dating back from its inception and “in today’s market clearly that can’t work”.

“We are in discussions at the moment with the Barbados Workers’ Union, who are the bargaining agent, and we are looking at how do we become more efficient in delivering a world class service and some of the restrictive practices would have to go,” he said, adding that “we will do whatever is necessary to achieve what we have to do as easily and nicely as possible”.

Meanwhile director and general manager Joanne Pooler said that as part of the restructuring exercise “a number of casual workers” at the Habour Cold Store, some of whom had been there for as many as 20 years, would become permanent staff.

“So although it is a restructuring and everyone is nervous about restructuring, it could have some significant benefits to some of our long-term casual workers,” she said.


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