Don Wehby, Group CEO, GraceKennedy Limited

Jamaican-based company GraceKennedy (GK) has limited travel by its staff in a response to the Coronavirus outbreak.

In a recent investor briefing, Don Wehby the Group’s CEO said: “Effective yesterday (March 3rd) we have put in a travel restriction on all GK staff.”

He continued: “GK staff can only travel on essential business and it will have to be approved by me if they so desire to travel on essential business.”

Wehby explained that the company has done its checks, and has concluded that it has two months supply of all its finished products and raw materials.

Wehby noted that GK, which distributes its products in T&T through HADCO, has six factories in Jamaica.

The Group CEO said: “So we have raw materials and finished products from areas that we would have bought which have been affected by the coronavirus.”

As part of the company’s planning process, even before the news of the Covid-19 outbreak was announced, it possessed a system where it must have alternative suppliers.

Wehby said GK has had a very robust Business Continuity Plan (BCP) in place for many years, where every company in the group has a designated BCP officer.

A few years ago, Wehby remarked that GK actually had a pandemic guideline in place. He stated that it is now a matter of rolling out those guidelines across the group.

Another system in place at GK is a “Top-risk system”. Wehby remarked that this is where each company has to present to him and respective boards its top risk, which is then analysed and mitigating actions put in place.

Wehby indicated that he has also established a steering committee, chaired by GK’s Chief Risk Officer Lee-Anne Bruce that will report to him on a weekly basis and if there’s an urgent matter – on a daily or hourly basis.

The steering committee, which comprises senior executives across the group, are monitoring developments on an hourly basis with the coronavirus and reporting back to him.

Wehby said: “So in a nutshell, as a corporation I think we are well prepared to deal with the coronavirus. It is very frightening when you’re read what is happening throughout the world, so we have to play our own part and do what we have to do.”