JP Group to enter tourism market, plans St Mary beachfront property | Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News | Loop News

Food and logistics company Jamaica Producers Group (JP) is venturing into the tourism market, joining other interests in developing St Mary and neighbouring Portland as premium resort destinations.

JP Group will utilise a fraction (56 acres) of the 3,500-acre land it owns in St Mary to develop a beachfront property.

“The concept will be premium low-density destination villas with excellent environmental credentials,” said JP Group’s general legal counsel Simone Pearson in an emailed responseto Loop News.

She said JP has engaged an advisory team of leading architects, landscape designers and environmental specialists to prepare the plan.

JP Group is a multinational portfolio of businesses centred around two primary segments: food and drink and logistics and infrastructure.

From left to right: Jeffrey Hall JP Group CEO; Patricia Francis, JP Director; Charles Johnston, Chairman at JP and Simone, Corporate Secretary & Group General Counsel at the company’s annual general meeting in June 2022.

Indeed, JP is positioning itself to capitalise on the lands, managed subsidiary JP Tropical Foods (JP Farms), where crops such as bananas, pineapples and coconuts are cultivated on 400 acres of land.

The subsidary recorded an overall operating loss during its last financial year.

“JP Farms has been on a long-term recovery plan which had shown significant promise in 2019 and 2020. However, during 2021 major weather disruption impacted the yields of the farm operations causing a considerable setback,” JP Group said.

Its underwhelming performance was also due to crop disease, challenges in market demand as well as competition from production by households and informal producers.

To this end, JP Group has undertaken a Community and Land Development Project, evidently in line with a commitment outlined in its 2021 annual report, to develop non-farming opportunities to improve shareholder returns on its land.

JP Group, so far, has engaged an advisory team of leading architects, landscape designers and environmental specialists to prepare a plan for the development, Pearson told Loop News.

It will likely look to begin work on the tourism development project next year.

“In 2023, the project will include select planned low-density residential and commercial real estate development, JP Group CEO Jeffrey Hall stated in a press release.

Hall said JP Group would initially focus on farming and re-forestation in addition to community support and engagement.

Other projects under review include renewable energy and a centre for volunteer tourism, the legal counsel said. She noted that the JP Group has, so far, planted over 6,000 trees under the tree-planting programme.

In a recent move as part of its community development plans, JP Group signed over 87 plots of land on JP Farms’ Chovey Farm to the community of Coleraine, an informal settlement on the property.

The ‘Coleraine Land Grant Project’ will give effect to one of the most meaningful community-based corporate social responsibility projects that the JP Group has ever carried out in St Mary, the company said.

In the meantime, other parts of JP’s St Mary lands will continue to be used for the farming of tropical produce even as the group extends its portfolio in new areas.

JP Group Chairman Charles Johnston

JP acquired major interests in four businesses in the last 12 months. Its most recent acquisitions cut across logistics, infrastructure, and food and drink business platforms and include ventures in Europe, the US and the Caribbean.

“Many of these investments are part of multi-year investment programmes that the group expects to deliver improved returns for 2022 and beyond,” JP said in a press release.

Speaking at the JP Group’s annual general meeting last week Friday, JP Group chairman Charles Johnston said the 2021 financial results demonstrate that the group has emerged from the COVID crisis with an “even stronger and more resilient multinational business portfolio”.

Hall added: “2021 was, in many ways, a transformational year for JP.”

For the year ended December 2021, the JP Group reported $3.8 billion in earnings, on revenue which jumped near 20 per cent year-on-year to $25 billion.

As at December 31, 2021, JP’s net worth reflected a book value of $17.10 per stock unit after exclusion of those stock units held by the group’s ESOP.