Let me start by wishing each and every one of you all the very best for 2018! It’s hard to believe it but another year has gone by so quickly. The third quarter was a bit of a whirlwind. In terms of the Company’s performance, sales overall are still trending at 10% below the same time last year driven primarily by the economic downturn. This situation is also making it very challenging to achieve margin growth and our profitability is declining. We also still struggle on a daily basis to get precious foreign currency to pay for our imports. Suffice to say we are now clearly feeling the impact of the recession.
The Divisions continue to produce mixed results. The Food & Grocery Division’s turnover is down on last year with profits continuing to lag behind last year. The huge agency opportunity I had mentioned in a previous address has not come to be as the brand owner has decided to keep their distribution in-house. This was particularly disappointing as we may have been able to acquire their product for TT dollars which would have allowed us to achieve growth in spite of the shortage of
foreign currency. Stephen and his team continue to search for similar opportunities to return to a growth position.
The Food Service Division has slowed versus last year as the HORECA channel continues to struggle with the economic environment. Our first container of goat meat arrived recently and we expect good growth from this new addition to our portfolio.
The Premium Beverages Division also continues to struggle with declining sales as well as margins. The parallel imports put ongoing downward pressure on our prices if we are to remain competitive. The bottom line has also been severely affected by a provision for bad debts which is a serious threat at the moment. We have three major debts which are of real concern for our company.
The Naughty Grape finally opened its doors at the Arima location in December and the results of the chain have been revealing good growth over the same period last year. We have our license hearing for the new location in Heartland Plaza in Chaguanas soon and if all goes well we should open on or before the end of March. We are excited to announce that this location is a mixed use location for us in that we will soon be opening a wine bar next to the store. We look forward to all staffers patronizing the bar as well as getting the word out there to build the business quickly. We will let you know once the launch date is confirmed and look forward to you all popping in with your friends for mouth-watering eats and some great wines and cocktails!
SkyWay continues its growth streak and experienced topline growth of 18% over last year for the same period. We have commenced construction of the new store upstairs and we are pushing hard to open before the Carnival rush. Congratulations to Tinneal on her winning the Dependable and Overall Brydens Finest Awards this year and for her and her teams continued success at SkyWay.
The Hardware and Housewares Division continues to lag behind last year in terms of sales and profitability. Their Division expenses are managed well and are actually down versus the prior year but not enough to improve the profit situation. Their margins over the Christmas period improved slightly so we hope they can make up some ground in the last quarter.
We are still seeking the right candidate to head up the Operations Department and a special recognition goes out to Lara Sanchez for her amazing leadership during the past few months after agreeing to take on the responsibilities of Operations lead in the interim. Without the tireless efforts of her entire Operations, DC and Logistics teams we would not have been able to successfully receive and dispatch as efficiently as we did during the Christmas season. Heartfelt thanks as well to
the teams in Accounts, IT, Trade Marketing and Human Resources who make our business run seamlessly and without whom we would surely fail. We appreciate you ALL!
It was really great as usual to see all of you having fun at the Staff party last month. Mandy and her team worked feverishly to pull it off and I am truly grateful for their efforts to make it the success it always is. A lot of work goes into that event and I hope the staff appreciated the gesture by the shareholders to continue to support this event in spite of the slowdown.
In closing I ask that all staff make every effort during this last quarter to end the year on as positive a note as possible. We expect that 2018 will be an even more challenging year for Brydens, but are comforted by the fact that with our dedicated employees anything is achievable. I hope the New Year brings you and your loved ones all the success that you truly deserve. Keep fostering your passion for growth!