A Common Vision for Another Thirty Years
A NIGHT OF CELEBRATION
This night is a night of celebration. It is indeed a night of honour. It is a
night, which is imbued with a history of its own. But it is also a night to
engage in quiet reflection. It is a night to remember past struggles as well as
to savour the triumphs and successes of toil and labour. There is no nectar
sweeter than that which is squeezed from the fruits of success.
It is a night to pay tribute to the pioneers, to the members of the Brewery
family and in particular, the workers, for they too are deserving of credit for
the success of this company. This is as true for individuals as it is for
companies. Each company, like every individual, has a unique personality.
In the long, hard and dark hours of night, while some rested and took time to
admire their work and what they had accomplished, the custodians of this company
toiled to ensure that tomorrow dawned a brighter day. On this occasion and in
this moment, you can pause, you can stop, catch your breath and say you have
come a long way. But it is not yet time to tire or to seek rest even as the long
shadows emerge - for success is a never finished product but always a work in
Every journey of success is accompanied by many moments of frustration,
self-doubt and disappointments. But it is only during these moments that it
becomes possible to discover the true self, to build character and to learn the
lessons within which the secrets of success are embedded.
A RESPECTED INSTITUTION
Along the road to achieving this very important milestone – along the road to
this thirtieth anniversary celebration there were, I am certain, periods of
hardship and struggle. There were too, moments of self-doubt, frustration and
disappointments. There were times of growing pains, mistakes and even adolescent
blemishes. But through it all, the courage, perseverance and determination to
succeed and the desire to forge head never wilted. The Windward and Leeward
Brewery has come through those difficult and challenging times and has proven
time and time again that it can withstand the test of time. It has truly become
a treasured and well-respected institution.
Achieving such a milestone is an important occasion in the life of any
corporation. But what makes this, the brewery’s thirtieth anniversary
celebration, all the more special is the many challenges that it has had to
overcome on this journey of progress.
DREAMS INTO REALITY
Some journeys begin with the first step, while others begin long before in the
minds of visionaries and pioneers. Sometimes long before the first step is
taken, visionaries and pioneers would have taken the journey many times over in
the contours of their minds. One such pioneer was the late Peter Anthony
Bergasse. Peter Bergasse did not only dream what could have been, he went one
step further and converted dreams into reality. The idea of establishing the
Windward and Leeward Brewery in Saint Lucia was his dream; it was his vision.
PETER BERGASSE – A VISIONARY
For many years he stood in opposition to the view that Grenada and St. Kitts
were the only countries among the smaller islands deserving of having breweries.
He therefore fought a relentless war to get the owners of Heineken Breweries to
rethink their presence in the region. Armed with the power of persuasion, Mr.
Peter Bergasse in 1975 finally convinced Heineken Breweries to establish a
subsidiary known as the Windward and Leeward Brewery Ltd. in Saint Lucia. It was
a decision that would change Saint Lucia’s corporate landscape and establish
Vieux Fort as Saint Lucia’s industrial heartland.
Mr. Bergasse’s association with the brewery did not end once he successfully
negotiated for the establishment of the entity in Saint Lucia. It went far
beyond that. From the inception he played a paternal role. As the first
Chairman, he nurtured the corporation during the early years. During the early,
uncertain years, he provided firm and resolute leadership in the management of
the affairs of the corporation. He worked tirelessly and assiduously to create
shareholders’ confidence and trust in the company.
His recommendation and decision to lead a team of directors to visit the other
islands in order to secure protection that was promised to Windward and Leeward
Brewery Ltd. was perhaps the single most important decision that guaranteed the
long-term success of the company. He succeeded in securing duty protection for
the Brewery in the Associated States which were identical to those afforded
Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Jamaica. The securing of duty
protection for the company marked an important watershed and paved the way for
the economic viability of the company.
Given Mr. Bergasse’s significant contribution towards the establishment of the
brewery, it is only fitting that we pay tribute to him. Let us salute his
entrepreneurial spirit, his vision, and his unwavering passion for success.
But we must not forget the parent company. They have stood with Saint Lucia,
despite the challenges, adjustments and doubts. Heineken Brewery is now part of
our family, part of our tradition for excellence, part of our landscape. We
salute, ladies and gentlemen, the parent company.
BENEFITS TO OUR ECONOMY AND SOCIETY
The establishment of the Brewery has redounded to the benefit of the entire
Saint Lucian society. Investments in the Windward and Leeward Brewery have
contributed significantly to the overall economic development of Saint Lucia.
For the year ending 2004, the brewery recorded an unprecedented increase in
profits of 29%. The company also enjoyed a net profit of E.C $15.7 million this
year which represent an increase of 43% over profits for the corresponding
period in the previous year. The gross sales revenue of the company increased by
4% or approximately EC $2.7 million over that of 2003. The company also
registered a net profit per share of $14 compared to last’s year $9.83 net
profit per share. This represented an increase of 43%. The company was also able
to pay profits as dividends at $14 per share. I am told that this year’s
performance is the best ever in the thirty year history of the company. The
brewery’s total investment of EC $5 million represented an important injection
of capital into the domestic economy.
By any measure, the performance of the company was exceptional. This of course
bears testimony to the fact that there is new buoyancy within the Saint Lucian
economy. The ability of the brewery to increase domestic market share is a clear
indication of increased economic activities and expansion and growth within the
domestic economy. The Government’s unwavering determination to create the
enabling environment to foster this business growth, is manifested in your
successive increases in export activity and profitability and that of many other
businesses, as confirmed in the last business survey conducted by the St. Lucia
Chamber of Commerce. I can assure you that the Government will be unrelenting in
its pursuit of continued economic growth and sustainability and improved living
standards for all St. Lucians.
NOT A PERIOD FOR COMPLACENCY
However, the record profits enjoyed by the company last year should only serve
to inspire the company to new heights. This is not a period for complacency. The
global economic environment is changing, so too is the regional and domestic
economic environment. Trade liberalization and globalisation are ushering in a
new economic dispensation. The Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) is an
offspring of this new economic ethos. The advent of the CSME will impose
increased competition, new trade regimes and new modalities of doing business.
Whereas, the CSME will impose new challenges it will also open up new areas of
opportunity. Although I hear the plea for the maintenance of special and
differential treatment for the OECS as allowed for under the revised Caricom
treaty, it is imperative that the company retool in anticipation of increased
competition under CSME. New levels of efficiency, organization and productivity
must be the ultimate goal of the company. Though we may never succeed in
levelling the playing field, we may just be able to tilt it in our direction by
our efficiency, quality of our products and innovative will and spirit. The
Government will continue to work hand in hand with you.
A SALUTE TO WORKERS
I believe, I strongly believe, that this company already has at its disposal a
key component necessary to maintaining a competitive edge in the market place.
Much of its success has been the result of possessing a fine cadre of dedicated,
committed, hard working and intelligent men and women. They are the blood life
of the company. It is their energy and commitment that drive this company day
after day. They share in its vision and implement its mission statement. So
tonight I salute you, the hard working staff of the brewery.
A HOUSEHOLD NAME
The brewery’s influence on Saint Lucia has not been limited only to the economic
sphere. Its tentacles have spread far and wide and have impacted every aspect of
Saint Lucian life. Today, the Windward and Leeward Brewery is a household name.
Its stature has grown considerably in every nook and cranny of this 238 sq mile
island. Through the years, it has developed a very close relationship with
communities all over Saint Lucia. It has modelled its particular brand of
corporate citizenship through the maintenance of support for national, cultural,
sporting and community events. The Windward and Leeward brewery has left its
stamp on many of the activities that punctuate Saint Lucia’s economic, social,
and cultural calendar. I take this opportunity to thank the Company for being an
outstanding corporate citizen.
A GOOD CORPORATE CITIZEN
Recognizing the importance of economic diversity in a period where rapid global
changes are undermining the traditional agricultural base of the local economy,
the Brewery has played an integral role in promoting the Saint Lucia Jazz
Festival as a tool for enhancing our tourism product and the development of the
island’s tourism industry. The Windward and Leeward Brewery Ltd. has become
synonymous with the world-renowned Saint Lucia Jazz Festival.
Culture and the arts have also benefited from its generosity. The Windward and
Leeward Brewery has become one of the premier sponsors of Saint Lucia carnival.
All the major carnival activities namely the calypso competition, panorama, king
and queen contests and the parade of the bands have at one point or the other
all benefited from the Brewery’s sponsorship. By providing sponsorship for
carnival, the brewery has demonstrated its commitment to the development of that
Time and time again, the brewery has reaffirmed its willingness not only to
participate in Saint Lucian life but to provide a lifeline for the events that
build into the annual celebration of life on the island. Its involvement in the
promotion of sports is legendary. The brewery has sponsored a number of local
sporting events. It has been at the forefront of the development of national
football. When this government succeeded in bringing international cricket to
Saint Lucia through the construction of the state-of-the-art Beausajour Cricket
Ground, the brewery, through one of its trademark products, Piton Beer, was
there in dramatic form and colour. For all it has given to sports, the sporting
fraternity has attempted to give back, though not in the same measure but
through appreciation, gratitude, and respect. It is no wonder that on numerous
occasions, the brewery has been the recipient of acclamations as sports sponsor
of the year. Truly, the support of the Brewery to local sporting activities has
For a number of years the brewery also fostered the continued development of our
young people through the provision of a textbook scheme and a scholarship
programme. These programmes specifically targeted the children of employees of
the company and contributed significantly to their education. So, by its
actions, by its deeds, it has manifested a commitment to invest in all things
Saint Lucian and that which brings value added to the society. I have no doubt
that the legacy of the company in Saint Lucia is well established and secure.
A COMMON VISION FOR ANOTHER THIRTY YEARS
It would be remiss of me, if I made no mention of those who have stewardship of
the company. Your astute leadership, continued foresight and vision have guided
this company through many a storm. Tonight, let me salute you as well and thank
you for your continued confidence in the economy and people of Saint Lucia. For
thirty long years we have shared a common vision and for thirty long years we
have worked in partnership to secure that vision. So as we look forward to
another thirty years of partnership, it is my hope that we continue to work
together to secure each others’ prosperity, for, after all, we share a common
I thank you.