Private sector has done well to cope with the worst effects of the prolonged worldwide economic recession.
This assertion has come from Harris Paints Senior Vice President Sales and Marketing Luke Ticknor who singled out the contribution being made by local companies as being particularly worthy of special mention, noting that every effort was being made to shield St. Lucian consumers from rising prices, while maintaining employment numbers.
Mr. Ticknor pointed out that the cost to manufacture products has risen steadily and sharply over the past two years due to the escalating raw material prices, fuel and electricity costs. Over the period, the company has been forced to increase prices in order to maintain its traditionally high standards of quality. However these price increases have helped the company offset only a fraction of its rising costs.
In a recent bulletin from Azko Nobel, the world's largest paint and chemical company, it was noted that: "The paint, wood care, and adhesive industries, which were dramatically affected by inflation and supply constraints in 2011, have continued to see increasing raw material costs and short supply heading into 2012. Costs continue to rise in categories such as titanium dioxide, latex, solvents, resins, pigments, packaging, and linseed oil. Titanium dioxide costs alone are expected to be over 35% higher in 2012 than in 2011."
Harris Paints Technical Manager Charles Kirton added: "While other companies have started to import ingredients like titanium dioxide and acrylic resins from countries like China, India and Russia, we have never been tempted to substitute lower cost and lower performing raw materials into our paints despite the cost of paint ingredients rising significantly around the world. Indeed, we have tested some of these cheaper ingredients and formulations and they have proven to be grittier, less white and do not hide as well and therefore do not live up to our quality standards and we have decided not to use them. At Harris Paints we pride ourselves on both quality and colour, and know that our customers see the value of more durable and better-looking finishes, and so we continue to use only the highest quality raw materials."
Harris Paints does not have financial support from international conglomerates and despite its origins as a small Barbadian manufacturer, the company has been able to grow dramatically over its 40 years primarily due to regional consumer acceptance of its Best by Test Quality products.
The rising costs of raw materials, due primarily to supply shortages caused by natural disasters and the excessive decommissioning of manufacturing plants prior to the recession, have been well documented by industry analysts. This trend, combined with the rise in crude prices, electricity and other input costs, has dramatically increased the cost to manufacture a gallon of paint over the past two to three years.
This is a pattern, which management at Harris Paints noted, Caribbean countries could ill afford to ignore, while keeping the focus on maintaining employment and consistent quality of product.
"The Caribbean is not immune from the shocks being felt in the international arena, and it is imperative that we strike a balance that allows us to reduce the impact on consumers, but which also allows us to maintain the quality of our brand and products and keep Caribbean people employed in quality jobs at the same time," stated Mr. Ticknor. (PR)