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 By Steven Jackson—
 Margaritaville in Montego Bay is located on the famous Hip Strip.—-

MARGARITAVILLE Caribbean, which runs bars and restaurants across the region, received a fresh injection of more than US$7 million (J$800 million) from undisclosed shareholders in a bid to reduce debt and prepare it for expansion.

“We are just shoring up our balance sheet and getting ready for additional growth plans,” Ian Dear, chief executive officer, told the Jamaica Observer in an interview on Monday, but declined to name the shareholders who advanced the funds.

The company previously revealed plans to expand into four additional territories, starting with St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, in the medium term. The expansion would result in a seven-territory operation.

The latest financials at the listed company released this month indicate that the group received an additional US$7.2 million in “shareholder loans” at the end of February. The amount represented an advance of funds at no fixed interest and no specific repayment terms, the financials added. Dear indicated that the new funds, which he termed “equity”, would reduce the company’s debt load.

The company paid over US$566,000 in finance costs in the February quarter on its US$12.6 million long-term loans.

“We have used the equity invested to pay down debt. So the vast portion of the debt is significantly lowered now, and we have additional capital for growth of the company,” said Dear, who is a major shareholder.

The group earned US$600,000 net profit for its third quarter ending February 2015 from US$9.8 million in revenues or 254 per cent more profit year-on-year. The profit growth was based on a bumper winter tourist season. Margaritaville earns the bulk of its revenue from tourists based on its strategic locations at airports, sea ports and major marque streets.

Margaritaville - Turks

Margaritaville – Turks

“The increase in revenue was supported by all operating locations. Express Catering, with its operations in the Sangster Airport, was the main contributor, followed by Turks and Caicos, Falmouth and Ocho Rios locations,” stated the financials. “The other locations had marginal increases.”

Margaritaville Caribbean was registered in 2005 in The Bahamas. The company is jointly owned by Quantum Investments Holdings Ltd and Mville Investments Ltd. The company and its subsidiaries operate a series of operations including RM Restaurant Ltd, Margaritaville Turks Ltd, Margaritaville Ocho Rios Ltd, Margaritaville St Maarten Ltd (inoperative), Express Catering Ltd, Falmouth Entertainment Brands Ltd, Margaritaville St Lucia, Portside Restaurant Group, and Restaurants of the Caribbean.

Last April, Margaritaville Caribbean and Margaritaville Turks separately listed preference shares and ordinary shares on the Jamaica Stock Exchange.

“We are very optimistic for the rest of the year,” added Dear, who expects to open a new bar at the Turks location by July or August.

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