LASCO Fi­nan­cial heads west as busi­ness grows

Jamaica Gleaner - - BUSINESS - Tameka Gor­don Busi­ness Re­porter tameka.gor­don@glean­erjm.com

LASCO FI­NAN­CIAL Ser­vices Lim­ited has opened a new lo­ca­tion in Mon­tego Bay and re­lo­cated its Red Hills Road branch to more spa­cious ac­com­mo­da­tion in Kingston. The mi­cro loan and money-ser­vices com­pany in­vested just un­der $3 mil­lion to set up its new lo­ca­tion at Bay West Shop­ping Cen­tre, said man­ag­ing di­rec­tor (MD), Jacinth Hall-Tracey. Five em­ploy­ees have been added there, with plans to hire at least two more.

“We took our first cus­tomer (last) Wed­nes­day,” Hall-Tracey said. The new branch of­fers the full gamut of ser­vices: mi­cro loans, re­mit­tances, cam­bio and bill pay­ments.

It cost “a lot more” to re­lo­cate the Kingston branch, but Hall-Tracey would not say how much. LASCO Fi­nan­cial is tak­ing over space across the street for­merly oc­cu­pied by af­fil­i­ated com­pany, LASCO Man­u­fac­tur­ing Lim­ited. Its fi­nan­cial dis­clo­sures show that LASCO Fi­nan­cial’s in­vest­ment in plant and prop­erty quadru­pled at year end­ing March 2016 from $8 mil­lion to over $35 mil­lion. Since then, the com­pany has in­vested an­other $17 mil­lion. “While Mon­tego Bay had coun­ters and floor space suit­able to the of­fer­ings, the man­u­fac­tur­ing site needed more re­sources in or­der to con­vert it,” she said.

BURST­ING AT THE SEAMS

“We had been oc­cu­py­ing that lo­ca­tion since we opened 12 years ago,” she said of the for­mer lo­cale at 29 Red Hills Road. “Once you pass 12 per­sons, its full. Then, our ad­min­is­tra­tive lo­ca­tion was there too; so, as we started adding ser­vices and grow­ing the busi­ness, we were burst­ing at the seams.”

LASCO Fi­nan­cial’s ad­min­is­tra­tive arm was the first to move two years ago. It was done to give the money ser­vices part of the op­er­a­tion more space to de­liver its ser­vices, but even so, the busi­ness still needed more room.

“So now we have just con­sol­i­dated ev­ery­thing to get ev­ery­body un­der one roof,” the MD said. The new head­quar­ters spans nearly 3,000 square feet at 381/2 Red Hills Road.

Hav­ing moved in, LASCO Fi­nan­cial now plans to mod­ify the en­tire park­ing lot and drive­way to rein­cor­po­rate its drive-through win­dow.

The com­pany has grown its re­mit­tance net­work from 98 lo­ca­tions in Au­gust 2015 to 124 lo­ca­tions up to Au­gust 2016. It dis­trib­utes loans from seven lo­ca­tions.

The com­pany closed its Septem­ber sec­ond quar­ter with rev­enues of $272 mil­lion, up 19 per cent.

Core busi­ness lines grew rev­enue by nearly $50 mil­lion, how­ever, other rev­enues fell as the com­pany opted out of the phone dis­tri­bu­tion market.

Hall-Tracey said sales of mobile de­vices were com­ing in too slowly and so was not worth the in­vest­ment.

“It was slow, so we just de­cided to re­fo­cus on our core. We wanted it to turn over our GCT a lot faster, so we would have a lower net re­ceiv­able from the Govern­ment but it wasn’t been ful­filled,” she said.

LASCO Fi­nan­cial en­tered the phone market in 2015 with an an­nounce­ment that it would be dis­tribut­ing Huawei de­vices in Ja­maica. Staff from what LASCO called its tele­coms unit were de­ployed else­where, and the in­ven­tory sold off by the end of Au­gust, the MD said.

LASCO Fi­nan­cial’s net profit fell to $42 mil­lion in the sec­ond quar­ter, from $60 mil­lion in the 2015 pe­riod – a gap partly ex­plained by an $11 mil­lion cor­po­rate in­come tax bill. LASCO Fi­nan­cial en­joyed a 100 per cent cor­po­rate tax waiver for five years, which has been cut to a 50 per cent waiver for an­other five years.

Six-month earn­ings have fallen from $114 mil­lion to $100 mil­lion.

The com­pany sports $1.4 bil­lion of as­sets, the largest por­tion of which is a loan port­fo­lio of $550 mil­lion and cash of more than $475 mil­lion. Its loan book has grown by $120 mil­lion in the past year.

Jacinth Hall-Tracey, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of LASCO Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Lim­ited.

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