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Holding its own

Tony Best

Holding its own

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Barbados’ economic recession may be hurting the bottom line of many Bajan firms but Grace Kennedy’s investments in the country aren’t feeling the pain.
That report card, of sorts, has come from Don Wehby, the conglomerate’s chief executive officer, who told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY that despite the tough economic times the island was experiencing Grace Kennedy was doing “very well” in Barbados.
“Grace Kennedy has a 40 per cent interest in a merchant bank down there, Signia, and that merchant bank has been doing very well, despite the economic challenges in Barbados,” Wehby said after hosting a media breakfast in New York. “Our merchant bank in partnership with the Cave Shepherd Group has been doing exceptionally well. We are not hurting as much as other companies.
    “I have been studying the Barbados economy and I think the Government of Barbados was very strong in terms of the recent layoffs, the redundancies of the public sector workers. As you know in the Caribbean environment that’s not an easy thing to do. Let me say that was some of the hard decisions, not only in Barbados but throughout the region that have to be made [were appropriate] so that we can get our fiscal house in order going forward.”
That approach, Wehby went on, would enable the region to record “sustainable growth in our territories”.
He called Grace Kennedy one of the Caribbean’s largest conglomerates, asserting that although the Eastern Caribbean was going through a rough economic patch, “we have been holding our own” when it came to market share and profitability.
“The Eastern Caribbean is a very important market for the Grace Kennedy group. Our products are sold there. We have banking services there. If the spending power of our brothers and sisters there declines it will affect our sales. Happily, though, we have been holding our own and our revenue and profitability in the Eastern Caribbean have actually been growing because of innovation and the introduction of new products,” he said.