Kingston Wharves Limited Diversifying Its Operations

The operations of shipping firm, Kingston Wharves Limited (KWL), are being further diversified to among other things, facilitate the management’s support of the Government’s ongoing mission to improve the ease of doing business in Jamaica.

Chief Executive Officer Grantley Stephenson, says this is being done under the latest phase of the entity’s transformation and expansion programme which commenced in 2015/16 and targets, among things, the delivery of maritime logistics services.

He points out that as a logistics service provider, KWL offers a full range of integrated warehousing, office and production solutions for businesses and consumers, “with a view to attaining a leading position in this market segment.”

The extent of services, Mr. Stephenson outlines, includes: warehousing and inventory management; product re-packaging, labelling and assembly; warehouse rental arrangements; and picking-packing inventory control and distribution for local and international clients.

He advises that KWL’s total logistics facility, comprising 160,000 sq ft of space, is expected to be fully built out within the next two months, adding that “we have embraced the national initiatives to improve the ease of doing business by creating a portfolio of new or re-modelled high quality (services) that can allow businesses to immediately benefit from (provisions under) the Special Economic Zone legislation and thereby bring business to Jamaica.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Stephenson says plans are underway for KWL’s establishment of operations within an area of Tinson Pen in Kingston, that has been designated a special economic zone.

This, he says, will facilitate the supply of motor vehicles to the domestic market and later expanded to include a warehouse for spare parts.

He points out that as a special economic zone operator, KWL will have a “distinct advantage” as a port-centred zone, offering greater levels of efficiency and streamlined one-stop services.

He also highlights work to expand port facilities utilized by KWL in order to accommodate larger ships, thereby enabling shipment of an increase in the volume of cargo anticipated from “new and diverse” business opportunities.

Meanwhile, Mr. Stephenson says that in addition to supporting the Government’s focus on improving the ease of doing business, KWL’s decision to diversify into providing logistics services is also aimed at capitalizing on the opportunity to tap into the potential billion-dollar 800-million strong consumer market which has been presented by virtue of Jamaica’s “geo-strategic advantage” of being astride some of the world’s major shipping/trading lanes.

Noting that this policy shift marked a “new era” at KWL, he says this now sees the entity moving to the point where “we do not depend (on) just handling containers (to generate) income, but (rather) by adding value to the cargo that is inside those containers.”

“So we have strategically organized our business activities into two divisions with each playing a specific role in executing our growth strategy…port operations and logistics and ancillary service. We are now warehousing for some of the major distributors in this country.

“We plan to maintain our market leading position as a multi-user…a multi-purpose port and we are improving our capabilities for handling a full range of automotive cargo, bulk cargo and break bulk cargo that is demanded by consumers and businesses in Jamaica and elsewhere,” he further states.

Meanwhile, Mr. Stephenson says KWL’s management will be increasing its focus on boosting the entity’s information technology (IT) capacity, particularly internet-based systems to effectively streamline and enhance business processes between suppliers and consumers.

This, he points out, by enabling instant communications and “eliminating burdensome procedures.”

Mr. Stephenson contends that the leading area for shipping-related information technology is in ports, particularly terminal-operating systems and intra-port communications.

He notes that data communication systems can, among other things, handle customs filings, transmittal of manifests and processing of bills and other documents.

Mr. Stephenson argues that the growing use of IT in cargo booking, tracking, clearance and delivery of major shipping lines as well as in customs clearance, “means that all ports need to become efficient interfaces for shipping services in a world closely connected through logistics.”

“The growing power and speed of information processing will continue to re-shape the shipping and port industry (and) Kingston Wharves will be at the forefront of this growing transformation,” he adds.

Founded in 1945, Kingston Wharves Limited emerged from humble beginnings to become one of Jamaica’s and the Caribbean’s leading shipping firms.

The entity underwent significant expansion and transformation, with the most notable being between 1994 and 2015 when stevedoring services were added thereby repositioning it as a transhipment hub for the Caribbean.

This resulted in KWL achieving Group of Companies status. The Group comprised KWL that has the direct responsibility for terminal operations; Security Administrators Limited that deals with port security services; Harbour Cold Stores for cold storage and cold storage equipment installation; and Western Storage and Western Terminals that handles property rentals.

By Douglas Mcintosh

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