Jamaican firm’s stake in My Ocean to fund new HQ, retail expansion

Jamaican firm’s stake in My Ocean to fund new HQ, retail expansion

A Jamaica-based private equity firm has taken a 26 percent stake in Bahamian hand-made soap and candle company My Ocean, as the company looks to expand its manufacturing and retail footprint as well as its staffing.

The deal between FirstRock Private Equity Limited and My Ocean was brokered by the Bahamas-based company Simplified Lending.

The equity position taken by FirstRock has already been approved by local regulators and represents “a first for the funding leader and an innovative capital raiser for a local manufacturer-retailer with a growing footprint”, according to a press statement on the deal.

My Ocean founder Tanya Klonaris said in the statement that FirstRock’s capital injection will allow her to grow the company into a premier exporter of hand-made Bahamian goods.

The capital injection will allow the company to develop a new 11,000-square-foot headquarters east of Mackey Street off of Shirley Street. The company will also use the capital to expand its retail locations beyond the current Lynden Pindling International Airport, Atlantis and Baha Mar stores, even moving products to cruise ship company MSC Cruises’ private island, Ocean Cay.

Klonaris intends to add eight full-time staff, with a view to building the staff to 42 in two years.

 “Well beyond just a capital injection, this investor partnership comes with an expertise and dedication to propel My Ocean into an internationally recognized brand,” said Klonaris.

“The reimagining of My Ocean includes high-tech system automations and even industrial machinery… Our ‘hand-made in The Bahamas’ international branding will also be closely associated with our new social media marketing, intent on illuminating Bahamian culture and with the personnel being afforded opportunities for career advancements in a training-centric culture.”

FirstRock Managing Director Chris Yeung said in the statement that My Ocean is one of the most recognized brands in The Bahamas.

“The interest in My Ocean is in line with the company’s growth strategy,” said Yeung.

“This acquisition is aligned with our strategy to be one of the leading private equity partners for small and medium-sized enterprises in the region.”

Simplified Lending’s founder and Chief Executive Officer Robert Pantry said in the statement that “The minority equity position by a regional player in The Bahamas is evidence of the critical nature of access to capital. My Ocean, with its beautifully hand-crafted rolled soaps that remind you of the sea, is one of so many companies that have a great product, good management and perseverance,” said Pantry.

“The company was doing extremely well and in 2019 looking forward to its best year ever. Then the pandemic hit, shut down tourism and severely impacted businesses like My Ocean.

“When we launched Simplified Lending three years ago, we wanted to be part of the success stories of companies like My Ocean, small to medium-sized Bahamian companies that just needed that additional financial infusion. To get to the next level, they face the critical capital access challenge and all too often that it is a concrete wall they cannot pierce.”

According to Pantry, it was a feat that the deal was struck during the COVID-19 pandemic. He called it a testament to the market value FirstRock recognized in My Ocean.

“This deal was consecrated following many discussions demonstrating the viability of the Bahamian visitor market even at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Pantry.

Source: https://www.thenassauguardian.com/business/jamaican-firm-s-stake-in-my-ocean-to-fund-new-hq-retail-expansion/article_1d58652b-3352-5c0c-ba85-dfc7e866e593.html