By Wendella Davidson
A SPANKING new state-of-the art building valued at in excess of $1B, and which represents a significant landmark for Distribution Services Limited (DSL), a subsidiary of the DDL Group was commissioned on Friday.
The facility at Diamond, East Bank Demerara, will serve as the new DSL warehouse and enhance the Diamond landscape. It is testimony to the declarations and claims of growth and diversification of the DDL Group.
Minister of Finance Winston Jordan, who delivered the feature address on behalf of President David Granger who was unavoidably absent, commended the board, management and staff of DDL for their vision to propel growth in Guyana.
He said the government will continue to put in place enhanced measures to ensure adequate public infrastructure, favourable macroeconomic conditions, stronger institutions and reduced bureaucratic red tape.
“We understand that these are critical conditions for a positive and dynamic business and investment climate and we are making every effort to attract investors for investment in the different sectors of the economy,” he said.
Among those who graced the occasion were Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge; Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin; iconic business executive Dr. Yesu Persaud; DDL Executive Chairman, Komal Samaroo; members of the diplomatic corps; Directors of DDL, staff and special invitees.
According to the finance minister, it goes without saying that Guyana’s economy cannot realise its full potential without the presence of domestic companies like DDL, because domestic private companies are a major driver of job creation and economic growth in any economy.
Commenting on the new facility, the minister said it will provide a more spacious and conducive environment for the company to conduct business, as it expands and continues to enhance the image of its products on the domestic and international markets.
“This investment is evidence of improvements in the investment climate in Guyana; it is one of several large investments that are taking place in the economy, and an indicator of how confident private businesses are about the state of our economy.”
“Last year, at the time of reporting in November, the country’s growth rate was pegged at 3.4 per cent, leaving the Caribbean Development Bank to recognise Guyana a having `one of the fastest growing economies in the Caribbean’”, he added.
The latest estimate of 2018 real growth in the economy with the benefit of final numbers is between 3.6 and 3.9 per cent, with the actual growth to be known at the annual end-of-year report by mid-year, the finance minister said.
Remarking that Guyana is increasingly being looked at as “the preferred destination”, he recalled a recent experience while attending a Prospectors and Development Association of Canada Convention, the largest mining convention in the world.
According to Minister Jordan, over 275 investors attended Guyana Day, which was a special day, an indication that extremely high-level investors are showing an interest in the country, something that was never heard of before.
Noting that persons had to be accommodated in an overflow room, the minister said at previous such gathering, the counts had barely passed 50 people.
He said too that importantly, the current government, since assuming office, has managed to keep the economy growing in an increasingly hostile international environment such as derisking, The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (AMLCFT), which is posing more problems for businesses and for people to do business, along with a domestic environment that is sometimes rocked by political instability and challenges to traditional sector.
That fact that growth has been achieved in the context of low inflation and a manageable fiscal deficit and a GDP ratio, is a tribute to the prudence and management of the economy by this government, Jordon declared.
Earlier in his presentation, the minister recognised Samaroo, a man with vision, closely following in the footsteps of his mentor, Dr. Yesu Persaud.
He reminisced on the day when he and Samaroo had attended the Cummings Lodge Secondary School, just a stone’s throw from the University of Guyana.
There, they learnt the values of hardwork, excellence, discipline and sacrifice.
The minister recalled too, attending a private sector activity function at the Pegasus Hotel last year, where speakers who spoke before Samaroo had lamented about the state of the economy.
But, according to him, Samaroo, in his address, had a different view of things and drew rapt attention from the gathering.
Samaroo had said, “where there is a will, there is an opportunity; where there is a challenge, there is a profit. If we see the glass as only being half-empty, others will exploit the other half that is full.”
Giving a brief history of DSL, General Manager, Bryan Prittipaul, said the company began operations here in 1992, some 25 years ago, a move that was triggered with the opening up of the Guyana economy and trade liberalisation in the 1980s.
At the early stages of operation, DSL was appointed the sole authorised agency in Guyana for Johnson & Johnson products, which they proudly represent until now.
Over the years, the company has added several leading fast-moving consumer goods brands such as Nestle, Edgerwll Personal Care, Dr Fresh Oral Care, and Baron Foods, among others.
“It is therefore no surprise that we have earned the reputation of becoming one of the leading distributors of fast-moving consumer goods products in Guyana,” he told the gathering.
This achievement, Prittipaul said, lies in the heart of DSL’s mission to reliably provide quality fast-moving consumer goods from around the world to Guyanese.
DSL is also increasing shareholder value and affording opportunities for growth and enrichment of their employees as it strives to conduct business with minimal environmental impact.
Since its founding, DSL has diversified into a retail service and today operates four Cash and Carry stores countrywide. The distribution business currently services 2300 retailers within Guyana through its sales force and strong distribution network.
These efforts have been stymied to some extent as rapid growth has resulted in constraint to the existing warehouse space.
That he added, provided a key justification for the construction of the new facility, as the company is now well positioned to continue its growth through the development of its current brands, as well as the acquisition of new brands and categories.
THE NEW FACILITY
Construction of the project commenced in November 2017 and was completed 17 months after. The facility measures 136×240 feet and has a gross area of 42,000 sq feet; office areas are 8000 sq ft; with a ground floor space of 3,400 sq. feet.
Additionally, the facility is equipped with four cold rooms with a total chill storage area of 1,825 sq. ft. along with two frozen chill chambers of 1,070 sq. feet.
It also has a receiving area consisting of four docking stations, sensors in some areas, each equipped with docking levellers, to allow for the efficient restocking of containers, while the dispatch area can accommodate multiple trucks simultaneously.
The warehouse is also equipped with special infrared sensors in some areas, which serves to activate the lighting system only when those areas are occupied.
Further, there are automatic shut-off faucets in the washroom area which supports the company’s efforts to conserve energy and water consumption.
The facility was officially handed over to the DSL management on March 1, 2019.
While the property is a significant expansion relative to the previous location at Industrial Site, Ruimveldt, the general manager said the new facility has been modular in its design, to cater for further expansion at the southern section of the property, with a space of over 30,000 sq. ft. that was deliberately left out to cater for future growth.
In addition to thanking the board for having confidence in the DSL business, and providing strategic leadership and guidance in realising their objectives, Prittipaul also thanked his staff and urged them, as they embark on a new journey, to take DSL from goodness to greatness.
The general manager thanked too the contractors, layout and design firms and all others who helped to make the project a success.
Samaroo, in his address, described the warehouse commissioning as an “important day” in the development of the DDL group in general, and particularly DSL, its major subsidiary. The commissioning, he added, marks a major step forward in the company’s diversification drive.
Assisting in the cutting of the ceremonial ribbon was Leshanna Bindah, a Sixth Form Queen’s College student, after which guest were afforded a tour of the facility. The event was interspersed with lively steelpan music by Ras Camo Williams.