BICO, the island’s main ice cream manufacturer, is reporting an eight per cent increase in revenue for the first half of the financial year ended last March 31, but executive chairman Edwin Thirlwell says future sales remain “uncertain”.
In fact, he told a recent media conference at the company’s Harbour Road, St Michael location that although BICO remained the market leader, the company had been pulling out all stops to maintain and grow market share in the face of stiff competition from imported brands.
BICO’s unaudited half-year financial statement, reporting the eight per cent jump in revenue, notes that almost half of the company’s sales was achieved through the mobile fleet which moves through communities around the island.
“We have been swinging from the chandeliers and doing cartwheels to sell ice creams because we don’t have an environment now where you can sit on your hands and assume the world will buy whatever you put out there,” said Thirlwell.
“That is not the case. It has not been for a long time, since about 2008 in fact,” he added. “Now it’s dog eat dog, every man for himself and we are out there every day pushing to get our product out and get it up front, to get it attractive to people.”
The ice cream manufacturer said a key factor in the company’s performance was “keeping a lid on price increases” so that people would continue to buy. However, Thirlwell said revenue growth for the foreseeable future was uncertain because the company planned to keep prices at current levels and maintain its distribution services.
“The lady of the house or the man of the house, when they do the shopping, they buy what they like . . . so the choice is when you get there whether you buy ours or whether you buy the imported one. Price makes a factor, presentation makes a factor, which is why we say what we put out there has to be as good as the international brands,” Thirlwell added.
The BICO chairman said there were still plans to move ahead with the installation of photovoltaic panels on the roof of the company’s cold storage facility in order to help drive down operating costs. “So we are very proactive at looking at ways to make it cheaper to do things” he said.
“We are biting away at the edges, trying to lower our cost base while still keeping up the level of service and the product,” he added.