Scotia Group Jamaica President and CEO David Noel says the bank has been reassigning some displaced staff to a new sales support unit. (Photo: Collin Reid)

Scotia Group Jamaica President and CEO David Noel says the bank is creating opportunities for some staff members, whose roles are being made redundant in recent transitional changes. Some 100 positions within the local operations are at risk, asScotiabank moves to transfer threesections to the Dominican Republic, including its Lending Services Unit which processes loan applications; the Processing Services Centre; and the Business Services Centre. Noel said the bank has been reassigning some employees to a new sales support unit, with 18 persons now reassigned. “One of the things we have been seeking to do is to create opportunities in areas that will help us to better serve our customers and provide them with solutions that they need. One such area is the new sales support unit,” Noel told a press briefing to discuss the bank’s financial performance last Friday at the Scotia Centre in downtown, Kingston. He said there will be other opportunities for jobs that will remain in Jamaica. “It’s a win for those employees, it’s a win for the business because we are going to re-train those employees in areas that are better able to support the growth of the business and customer needs,” he added. Scotiabank and the BITU have failed to make progress in local-level talks aimed at settling the dispute which has been a triggered primarily by the bank's decision to continue transitioning local units to locations outside of Jamaica. “The concern with a country saying everything should be owned in our country can meet inefficiencies and can actually hurt Jamaica given the strength of our Jamaican operations,” Noel said. According to Noel, who also serves as SVP & Head of the Caribbean Central & North, Scotiabank has centres of excellence in multiple Caribbean countries, serving each other. "Each of these centres of excellence provides our business with the ability to more efficiently meet our operating needs and ultimately deliver benefits to our customers,” Noel said. He added: “If we were to say, jobs should only exist in the country where the work is being done, it would be that our [Jamaica’s] contact centre should not be serving multiple countries as we are doing now.” The unions, however, reckon that this as an immoral practice employed by enterprises operating across several countries, where positions and employment are transferred from one place to another or from one country to another, for profit without consideration given to its impact on the employees. “I appreciate the concerns that the union raised and rightly raised, that’s their role, to protect workers, but we have always found a way to resolve our issues,” Noel said, adding that he was confident that the parties would come to a mutually acceptable solution. Scotiabank’s regional changes first started in 2013 when the company moved its back-office operations, inclusive of account processing, reconciliations, customer support and collection services, to Port of Spain to cover customers in Trinidad and Tobago and 17 other Caribbean markets.

Fontana has outlets in five locations and is set to open a flagship store next year at the intersection of West Kings House and Waterloo Roads.

One of Jamaica’s leading pharmacy chain, Fontana Limited, is seeking to raise a little over$468 million via an initial public offering of its shareson the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) Junior Market, amid plans to increase outlets locally. In June, Fontana announcedplans to open a35,000 square foot store, its largest location -at the intersection of West Kings House and Waterloo Roads in Kingston next year. The companyis nowlooking to expand to Portmore, St Catherine,add another location in Montego Bay and bolster its online shopping platform. “The company is actively seeking yet another location to serve the growing demand from customers in Portmore, St. Catherine, which has the potential for strong future revenue growth. The directors are also monitoring opportunities for expansion in the Montego Bay area”, Fontana said in its prospectus posted to the JSE late last week. The IPO will allow Fontana to raise funds for working capital, take advantage of opportunities for improvement and expansion of the business. Fontana has offered 249,874,965 ordinary shares at a price of $1.88 per share for the general public. The invitation, which is being arranged by Scotia Investments Limited, opens on Thursday, December 13 at 9:00 am and run until Thursday, December 20. If all of the Invitation shares aresold, the invitation will raise $468,077,925 million, of which $234,040,086will be due to the Fontana and $234,037,839 will be due to the selling shareholder, Burbank Holdings thatis controlled byChairman Emeritus Shinque (Bobby) Chang. With over 65,000 square feet of combined store space at its locations in Barbican,Kingston, Fairview, Montego Bay, Mandeville, Savanna-la-mar and Ocho Rios - Fontana is run by the second generation of the Chang family and their spouses and is supported by over 300 members of staff. Speaking to the announcement of its IPO, Ray Therrien, Chief Operating Officer Fontana Limited said the decision to offer shares to the public is driven not only by financial considerations but also by a desire to give back to Fontana employees and the persons across Jamaica who have supported the company over 50 years. “Although we are parting with a piece of the company, we view the IPO as something which will provide ample benefits both for Fontana and our investors in the medium to long-term,” Therrien said, noting that Fontana has always taken a long-term view of its development. An artist's impression of the Fontana outlet thatis set to open nextyearat the intersectionof West Kings House and Waterloo Roads. Fontana’s core business is the sale of pharmaceutical products through licensed pharmacies. It has diversified its product offering to include a vast range of beauty and cosmetic items, housewares, home décor, toys, baby items, electronics, school and souvenir products. The company'srevenues have grown significantly over the five financial years, however its revenue growth in financial year 2018 was negatively impacted by months of roadworks near to the Kingston store at Barbican Square which temporarily reduced client access to the location, and by the State of Emergency in St James that forced the Fairview branch to shorten its opening hours and decreased traffic overall. The Montego Bay and Barbican Square locations together represented 62 per cent of total revenues in financial year 2018, down from 63 per cent in the prior year.Accordingly, revenue grew at a lower rate than costs of sales and administrative and other expenses, and operating profit fell seven per cent to $346 million in financial year 2018, from $372 million in financial year 2017. Net profit for financial year 2018 decreased five per cent over 2017, moving from $262 million in 2017 to $247 million in 2018 as a result of the aforementioned challenges. Despite the temporary slowdown in revenue growth, gross profit margins remained strong at 37 per cent in financial year 2018, compared to 33 per cent in 2014, the company said. [related node_id='5acdd8bf-4cb0-429b-a333-bd554b4f635d'] Fontana’s management expects total sales to rebound in the next financial year given the completion of the roadworks that affected the Barbican store in Kingston, and the opening of the Waterloo Square branch, which will add 28,000 square feet of retail space that will increase the company’s overall retail footprint by over 40 per cent and bolster sales. “In doing so the company’s intention is to lead the retail market with innovative concepts, marketing and ease of shopping,” Fontana said, adding that the Waterloo Square store will enable the company to negotiate more favourable terms and rebates with key pharmaceutical partners on the local purchasing side. Therrien added:“After careful consideration of the pros and cons of seeking to list on the Junior Market Fontana is pleased to be able to come to market at this time and is happy to be working with Scotia Investments.”

Buju Banton reunites with daughter, Abihail.

Seven years ago, during Buju Banton’s sentencing, a US federal court in Tampa heard a heartfelt request for leniency from the reggae icon’s then 11-year-old daughter, Abihail Myrie. “I can’t imagine a life without my father,” the child reportedly wrote. “I would really appreciate if you would give him a second chance.” It was therefore no surprise the joy she felt over the weekend after being reunited with her dad following his release from prison on drug related charges. Abihail shared the heartwarming moment in a social media post. “I’ve imagined what this moment would be like, replaying it over and over again in my head but now I can stop imagining because that moment is finally here,” Abihail wrote. “It’s so real and I can’t even find the words to express how i feel. I missed you so much Im so happy to finally have you here. My heart is so full. How’d you make an exact replica of yourself though?? TWINNING!.” Photos of the moment show both Buju, real name Mark Myrie, and his daughter overjoyed as they embrace. The post has been shared thousands of times on social media as Buju Banton fans celebrate his release from prison.


Reggae star Etana has ended the drought of female nominees, bagging a nomination for the Best Reggae album with her 'Reggae Forever' set. "I feel honoured and truly grateful that an album created independently and supported by Tads Records has been recognized by such a prestigious organization as the Academy Awards group. I'm excited," Etana told Loop News. The nominees in the 61st annual Grammy Awards were revealed yesterday. The list of nominees for the Best Reggae Album category are: Reggae Forever by Etana, 44/876 by Sting and Shaggy, A Matter of Time by Protoje, As the World Turns by Black Uhuru and Rebellion Rises by Ziggy Marley. The awards will take place on Sunday, February 10 at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles, California. Etana thanked a number of people who have contributed to her success. "I could not have done it without Andre Morris, who always knew even when I didn’t; Tarrus Riley who’s always there cheering me on and pulling me up if I slow down, Gramps Morgan who believed in my latest independent project “Reggae Forever” album, Tads Records - both Tads Senior and Junior., all the musicians, vocalist, Jessie Addleman, Khambrel Mcpherson, and advice from Clive Hunt; when I thought my project was finished he sent me back to the board lol! Love him forever," Etana said. She continued, "Tanya Stephens, Dean Pond, JVibe, Kirkle Dove, My mother who’s always for me and my girls no matter what, all my relatives and family members who put their all in, Keona Williams, Claude Mills, Heavy D, Anthony Sewell, Courtney MAC, all the the disc jockeys and my whole team. Thank you for your hard work!". Despite the Awards having a rich legacy of Jamaican winners, none of those winners have been females. Three decades of history in the Reggae Grammy category revealed that only three females have ever been nominated, none of them actually walking away with the award. The last female to walk away with a nomination was Sister Carol. She was nominated in 1997 for her album, Lyrically Potent. That was more than two decades ago. This year's nominations is also marked by a significant inclusion, that of seminal band Black Uhuru, whose nomination is a landmark one given that the band won the first Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album for their album, Anthem, in 1985. Back then, the category was called Grammy Award for Best Reggae Recording and it was presented to artistes for eligible songs or albums. In 1992, the name of the award was changed to Best Reggae Album.

Mayor Leon Thomas (back row, centre) poses with members of the Queens Park netball team who won the inaugural Mayor Leon Thomas Portmore Sunshine City Netball League recently.

The inaugural Mayor Leon Thomas Portmore Sunshine City Netball League endedrecently with Queens Park beating Progressive 28-25 in a keenly contested match to cop the first place trophy and a cash award of $200,000. The final was played at the Marine ParkCommunity Centre. For their effort, Progressive received $100,000 while third-placed team, Braeton, received $60,000. Westchester rounded out the top four. Fifteen teams entered the six-week competition that started on September 30. Five teams were placed in each of the three zones, which covered the three Portmore constituencies of St Catherine South, St Catherine South East and St Catherine East Central. Following the preliminary round, the two top teams from each zone along with the two best third- placed teams advanced to the quarterfinals. The top four advanced to the semifinals before Queens Park met Progressive in the big finale. There were a raft of prizes including for leading goal scorer, most valuable player and a most outstanding player. The player who scored the historic opening basket on September 30, also received a prize. “The objective of the tournament is to ensure a meaningful netball competition for the municipality of Portmore and for the development of the courts and the various communities,” saidChairman of the organising committee, Basil Taylor. “The Mayor indicated that one of his major objectives is to build and refurbish courts across the municipality,” Taylor shared. He said the organising committee will meet in January to assess how well the inaugural tournament went and to plan for the 2019 installment. For his part, Mayor Thomas said it was important to establish a competition targeting the females in the municipality. “Too often they feel left out as right across the country we have numerous sporting events taking place with the majority targeting males,” Mayor Thomas told Loop News. “I will use the inaugural tournament as a catalyst to ensure that proper playing surfaces are developed right across the municipality,” Mayor Thomas added. The Mayor said he was “very pleased with the overall quality of the players but more importantly with the camaraderie that it engendered among community members.” Mayor Thomas said community members were already looking forward to the 2019 tournament.

Portmore will be looking to extend their lead while adding to the woes of Harbour View when the teams clash on Sunday in the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) at Spanish Town Prison Oval at 3:00 p.m. Defending champions Portmore have hit a purple patch, winning their last five matches to distance themselves from the chasing pack. After 14 rounds, Portmore are on 30 points, six more than second-placed Waterhouse, who are also in top form, as they have won four of their last five matches, while drawing the other. Waterhouse, however, remain close to the other top six teams, with a gap of only four points separating second and sixth. Cavalier and Arnett Gardens are both one point behind on 23, with goal difference separating them. Another point adrift are Mount Pleasant, who are on 22, with sixth-placed Tivoli Gardens on 20. Portmore have been consistent throughout the season so far, being clearly the best attacking team in the competition, having scored 24 goals, while their concession of 13 goals place them fifth in defence, behind Mount Pleasant (eight goals), Cavalier (10), Waterhouse (11) and Arnett Gardens (13). Portmore have also done well both on the road and at home. Their 11 home points place them third in that arena, behind Arnett Gardens (16) and Waterhouse (13), and their 19 points on the road lead the league as the best away team. Harbour View, on the other hand, have struggled in every aspect of their game. In the 12-team competition, Harbour View are 11th at home, 10th away; at the bottom in defence, and seventh in attack. With Harbour View struggling and lying in the relegation zone on 12 points, which place them only ahead of newcomers Dunbeholden, Portmore are expected to chalk up their sixth consecutive win as they hunt their seventh title. However, Harbour View, once a powerhouse in local football, with four premier league crowns and runners-up on five occasions, cannot be taken lightly, as within their ranks are individuals who can use their past performances to inspire the current set of players to lift them over the Portmore obstacle. SUNDAY’S MATCHES Cavalier vs Reno at Stadium East at 3:00 p.m. Mount Pleasant vs UWI at Drax Hall at 3:00 p.m. Portmore United vs Harbour View at Spanish Town Prison Oval at 3:00 p.m. Montego Bay United vs Tivoli Gardens at Wespow Park at 3:00 p.m. Waterhouse vs Dunbeholden at Drewsland at 7:00 p.m.