In what we could readily describe as a “throw away age”, we are living in a period where most things are seen as dispensable the moment their significance is questioned. As a result, there is an ongoing battle to remain relevant as the environment around us evolves.
One may be of the impression that these circumstances relate only to individuals,however, it is equally applicable to enterprises and organisations.
As a result, it was a welcome development the announcement by Cave Shepherd & Co Ltd, of its plan to offer all its employees shares in the company, through an Employee Share Option Plan (ESOP).
The development is expected to be given the nod of approval when the publicly listed company hosts its 52nd annual general meeting next month at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
Listed on the Barbados Stock Exchange, Cave Shepherd’s most recent trading price this week was $4.65 per share. This represents a decent share value when compared to other listed financial services companies.
Over the past decade, Cave Shepherd has been transforming from its original core business activities of retail to the more, and broader-based, financial services sector.
Despite the company expanding its range of financially based operations, most Barbadians would have been surprised by Cave Shepherd’s decision two years ago to sell its flagship retail operations from which the company got its brand – Cave Shepherd Stores.
The retail stores have since been renamed Duty Free Bridgetown and are going about their own brand identity process.
The important development in which we are most interested is the move by this local company chaired by Sir Geoffrey Cave and outgoing chief executive officer John Williams to make the ESOP plan a reality.
The current shareholders are likely to approve the plan that would allocate up to one million common shares in Cave Shepherd to all employees.
They had already given the green light at the 2020 annual general meeting to the allocation of shares for such a purpose.
It is an enlightening step forward by this company that has been around for 116 years. Some cynics may argue that the move is several decades late. It must be noted that for most of its existence, Cave Shepherd was a private company that was mostly family-held.
Within the Cave Shepherd group today are Fortress Fund Managers, Payce Digital, DGM Financial, SigniaGlobe Financial and the Ganzee Island Stores.
Cave Shepherd is an iconic brand in Barbados, is identifiable within a wide cross section of the public and enjoys a high degree of confidence in its management.
The company’s profitability, since dropping much of its retail operations which were dragging the group’s bottom line, has since enjoyed a turn around.
The expected widened shareholder base should be pleased with the latest performance in which profits attributable to shareholders was $11.7 million for the financial year ended December 31, 2022.
The position also bucks the belief that local companies are not nimble enough and are reticent to take the kind of decisions necessary to ensure their continued survival and their prospects of thriving in an ever evolving business landscape.
“This strong result endorses the strategic business direction taken after we stepped away from our legacy retail business and demonstrates that the group is not only performing well but has positioned itself for growth – both organically and through acquisitions,” Sir Geoffrey and Williams noted in the latest annual report.
We commend the move by this successful Barbadian enterprise for laying the groundwork to ensure its continuation into the next century.
Employees of Cave Shepherd are sure to feel a level of commitment to the company because they have an ownership stake in its success.
The structure of the Cave Shepherd ESOP is not available to the public, but we assume that it will also allow employees the option of liquidating some of their shares at various intervals and therefore present additional financial benefits to them.
We are aware that an employee share ownership plan has been established for some time by Williams Industries and has also contributed to the success of this Barbadian group of companies.
This demonstrated level of corporate commitment sends a positive message not only to employees but to customers and clients who support these entities.