Hardware and Lumber Ltd. increasing profile across Caribbean, Latin America.
Jamaican-based Hardware and Lumber Ltd. is a retailer and wholesaler of building materials, home improvement supplies, household items and agricultural inputs and equipment. The company, which began operations in 1927, is a 58.1-percent subsidiary of its parent organization – GraceKennedy Ltd. – and both are listed on the Jamaican Stock Exchange.
The GraceKennedy group is one of the oldest and most trusted in the region and comprises a network of 60 subsidiaries and associated companies across the Caribbean and in North and Central America, the United Kingdom and Africa. The operations span the food distribution, financial, insurance, remittance, hardware retailing and food-processing industries.
Hardware and Lumber Ltd. consists of two main divisions, includes 10 Rapid True Value stores and five AgroGrace stores, reported 2013 revenues of $6.8 billion (Jamaican) and is primarily held by the aforementioned GraceKennedy Ltd. and Pan Jamaica Investments Ltd. (20.8 percent).
Among the divisions, AgroGrace is Jamaica’s leading distributor and retailer of agricultural inputs. Its major product lines include pesticides, fertilizers, vegetable seeds, animal feeds, home garden items and farm equipment, and it provides expert advice and assistance in meeting the challenges of improving productivity and general profitability of the Jamaican farmer.
Rapid True Value’s stores are located island-wide, with each focusing on consistently delivering the widest range of quality merchandise to small and mid-sized hardware stores, contractors, building professionals and home owners. The overall company’s purchasing network spans four continents, which enables it to source more than 50,000 products. Product offerings include lumber and plyboard, steel, cement, tiles, cement, pipes, plumbing, sanitary ware, paints, hardware and tools, lawn and garden, lighting fixtures, electrical supplies, windows, doors, housewares and appliances.
The core message supporting the AgroGrace brand is “Your Complete Farm and Garden Store,” while Rapid True Value is labeled as “Everything you need to Build, Renovate Decorate.”
“We utilize enterprise inventory management and retail software from a world-leading supplier, which enables us to manage the over 50,000 SKUs through our network of 15 locations,” said Patrick Chambers, a category manager at Hardware and Lumber Ltd. since 2009. “In short order, we will roll out our e-commerce platform that will enhance our ability to satisfy the younger and more techno-savvy consumers which will also open up a new channel of distribution.”
The company is committed to national food security initiatives and seizes all opportunities to showcase an assortment of quality products and new technology for the enhancement of productivity. It aligns itself with world-leading manufacturers to bring to market quality products, especially in hybrid vegetable seeds and pesticides.
“The industry in which we operate is very challenging, and disposable income is under immense pressure. We have relationships with a wider range of suppliers world-wide,” Chambers said.
“Many of these arrangements are exclusive, while with others we are in the top three. Our wide distribution network in Jamaica enables us to reach all population centers via our store locations and our wider reseller network. We have been working closely with our suppliers to maintain consistency in inventory levels and to introduce innovative products to the market.”
Hardware and Lumber Ltd.’s affiliation with GraceKennedy makes it an employer of choice, thanks to the parent company’s reputation for quality throughout the country.
“We, in our own right, are also a leading player in our field and many prospective employees see us as a best-in-class company in which to seek employment,” Chambers said. “Generally, individuals want to be associated with companies which share the same core values under which we operate – honesty, integrity and trust.”
The company is committed to maintaining a safe environment for employees, customers and associates. It works hard to reduce carbon footprint by ensuring that all 15 locations utilize energy saving LED lighting, along with deployment of solar electricity generating technology.
It contributes to the country’s green initiatives by distributing these products to a wider customer base and participates in a recycling initiative by being a collecting point for plastic bottles.
In terms of differentiation from competition, Chambers said size and scale sells itself.
“We are the largest distributor of agricultural, building and home improvement products in Jamaica, with many more locations than our competitors,” he said. “We also sell a wider range of products than any one of competitors. We utilize a wide range of media to communicate our message, which includes TV, radio, print and online, including website, mobile text, social media and direct emailing.
“We aim to consolidate our position in Jamaica as a platform to become a regional player in the wider Latin America and the Caribbean, fully capitalizing on Jamaica becoming the world’s fourth-largest global logistic hub.”
AT A GLANCE
WHO: Hardware and Lumber Ltd.
WHAT: Retailer and wholesaler of building materials, home improvement supplies, household items and agricultural products, and provider of residential and commercial construction services
WHERE: Kingston, Jamaica