Since its hostile takeover by Brazilian beverage manufacturer giant Ambev almost two years ago, Banks Holdings Limited (BHL) and its subsidiaries are performing at an “all time high”, according to company officials.
The improved market share, export volumes and financial performance, which comes following a year of uncertainty in 2015, have been attributed mainly to the company’s long-standing brand legacy and policies implemented years ago, according to outgoing Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Richard Cozier.
“It is a case of Pinehill record profits and in the case of BHL, which will be publishing its financials [soon], a similar story will be revealed,” said Cozier.
“We always had the strong brands and it was just a matter of all the policies and decisions we took in the past, the hen has now come home to roost. So we are now seeing the benefit of decisions taken in the past. Plus we have the benefit now of a new set of eyes looking at how we operate and bringing best practices to bear, and that also is going to reveal itself in coming years,” said Cozier.
Meanwhile, BHL Integration Manager Daniel Levorin said the company was yet to reach its full potential, adding that the plan for the near future was to focus on exports.
The company recently penetrated the French-speaking Caribbean market and Trinidad and Tobago with the Presidente beer.
“We have a plant here with capacity to export. I have no doubt we are going to fill the total capacity of the plant really quickly and probably increase the capacity soon,” said Levorin, while pointing out that the Deputy beer, which was introduced more than a year ago, was performing extremely well here.
Levorin said following the Ambev takeover, the company has managed to hire a number of staff in some areas, “lost some employees” and promoted others.
Cozier said the company would continue to undergo various changes, some that may not be readily accepted, in order to make the company more viable. He said Barbadians should not see the changes as any threat.
“If we don’t change we will be left behind and that is the threat. So there are going to be changes. Some of them don’t look good on the surface but once you start down the road you see that if you hadn’t adopted that change then what you would have achieved would be worse than where you are now. Don’t see change as a negative. See it as a positive,” said Cozier, explaining that some of the changes include simple physical reorganization of some departments.
They were speaking on the sidelines of a special CEO retirement cocktail reception for Cozier at the Tapas Restaurant on Friday night. His retirement officially takes effect on June 30.
During the event, the humble, long-time manufacturer was honoured by colleagues, family and friends.
As a special retirement gift to the BHL stalwart the stretch of roadway leading to the BHL companies in Newton, Christ Church was named in his hanour – the Richard Cozier Drive.
Addressing the event, Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss also pointed to the need for constant change within companies if they were to survive in the hostile global market.
Pointing to the takeover of BHL by Ambev, which was decided on in December 2015, Inniss recalled the anxiety surrounding the continuation of the local company’s brands and job levels.
Stating that it was not the business of government to “intrude” in private companies’ affairs, Inniss said he was satisfied the right decision had been taken.
“For those who may be critical, constructively or otherwise, of that move I must say that we must thank Richard Cozier for having the stickability, the forthrightness and vision to find an international partner who is able to take Banks Holdings [Limited] to a higher level,” said Inniss.
“I believe firmly that those who may want to criticize should look at the bigger picture. We are limited in our size here in Barbados. We can only grow so much if we continue to look inward, but through the partnership with Ambev I am sure that BHL’s products and staff will reach heights that perhaps they could not reach if we were just inward looking. I think that is a lesson that Richard Cozier’s leadership of Banks Holdings certainly brings to the fore,” said Inniss.