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BARBADOS - construction


Web Posted - Mon Jan 17 2005
By Shawn Cumberbatch
BUSINESS is looking up for the Barbadian manufacturers of a unique roofing system.

Duraplast Inc., which manufactures shingles made from PET bottles, is attracting clients throughout the Caribbean after an initial 'slow start'. So much so that the owners of the brand may be looking to establish franchises to meet the growing Caribbean demand.

News of this came from Richard Cozier, managing director of Banks Holdings Limited (BHL), Duraplast's parent company. In his report carried in the BHL's 2004 annual report, Cozier said during the last financial year acceptance of the Duraplast roofing system continued to improve. Some 66 buildings were roofed with the shingles between September 2003 and August 2004, which he considered 'encouraging after a slow start'.

Further, while export sales to St. Kitts dropped off 'dramatically' with a total of 25 000 shingles shipped there, Duraplast was able to penetrate the Trinidad and Tobago market and shipped 113 800 shingles and ridge caps there.

Cozier noted also that the devastation caused by the passage of Hurricane Ivan through the region last year had resulted in 'an overwhelming interest in our product and shipments of shingles and ridge caps to the Cayman islands has already begun'.

'Our agent in Grand Cayman has suggested that he will probably need two 20-foot containers per week,' he stated. Grenada, which suffered the greatest devastation from Ivan, also generated interest in the roof shingles. In this regard, a number of quotations have been sent there and orders 'are expected in the near future'.

This level of interest offshore, the spokesman noted, was matched with an increasing demand locally as 'we have been selected to provide the shingles for a major development, which will see about 140 houses and 90 townhouses constructed over the course of the next two years, beginning in February 2005'.

The local interest heightened last year after Duraplast shingles were selected and installed for the re-roofing of the Oistins Fisheries Complex.

'This location is highly visible in an area with high traffic and has become a solid marketing tool for the operation. We are confident that our product will be selected for any future roofing work at other fishing complexes,' said Cozier. Given all of these developments, Cozier said there would be a need for increased production and that Duraplast had taken steps to improve its capabilities in this regard through re-tooling of critical production processes.

Fortunately, he said, the decision by Barbados Bottling Company Limited to convert to 100 per cent PET production had resulted in increased returns and hence availability of the primary material for the shingles.

"We are also in the process of investigating franchise opportunities for the product as an opportunity to increase production of the product to meet the expected rise in demand across the Caribbean," Cozier said.

Compliments of the Barbados Advocate


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