The new One Mart supermarket is under construction in Fat Hogs Bay. (File photo: PROVIDED)

If a company that began in the Virgin Islands is successful, the Caribbean may soon have pizza, paper towels or a ride to the store at its fingertips through a GrubHub-style delivery app now on its way to Jamaica and other countries through a deal with a taxi drivers’ group.

OM Holdings International — the OneMart holding company headed by opposition legislator Mark Vanterpool — has signed a contract to provide its “Local On-Demand Technology,” known as LODE-TECH, to Jamaica by partnering with what it called the largest taxicab company in the country, the company announced last week.

OMHI

In a process that started last year, OneMart’s holding company, KMark Foods, was acquired by the publicly held Portage Resources Inc, a Nevada-incorporated firm that first had sold off all its assets and liabilities as part of a restructuring process, according to a May press release announcing the reverse merger.

Portage was renamed OMHI, and Mr. Vanterpool was appointed CEO and chairman.

Through its subsidiary Rydeum Caribbean, the company said, it is now applying for three US patents for a “novel decentralised architecture” allowing multiple local businesses and customers to order transportation, delivery and professional services via an app called DoGetGo.

Customers will be able to shop at OMHI stores from their phones and have their purchases delivered, according to the firm. The app supports “less expensive” ordering and delivery from restaurants, which have struggled to profitably offer delivery services in the face of fees from delivery services like GrubHub, the press release stated.

According to The Guardian, commissions from existing delivery apps can range from 15 percent to as high as 35 percent of order totals.
The planned app will also enable residents and visitors to Jamaica to call for a ride, thanks to a five-year contract with the Jamaican Union of Travelers Association, a Montego Bay-based nonprofit that boasts some
12,000 drivers.

“This acquisition helps us navigate the competitive environment in several ways,” Mr. Vanterpool said in the release. “We can continue to bring the highest quality products, services and convenience to our existing and future customers. This is now at their fingertips through their smartphones. The technology will help us to gain efficiencies, increase our strategic options, reduce our costs and substantially
increase our profits.

Expansion plans

The press release noted that Rydeum Caribbean, Inc. was acquired from Rydeum Technologies, Inc., founded by Mark Hannah in Atlanta in 2019, for an undisclosed amount of cash and stock. Rydeum Caribbean has a regional exclusive software licence and IT managed services agreement with Rydeum Technologies, according to the release.

“These exclusive agreements allow Rydeum Caribbean, Inc. to efficiently launch LODETECH in 27 additional Caribbean countries at a fairly rapid pace,” the release stated.

Although OHMI’s website mentions the company operates in the VI, the Beacon was unable to obtain the precise list of countries or when it would launch in them. However, in the press release, Mr. Vanterpool promised that the implementation would soon begin.

“It is our intention to roll out DoGetGo throughout the Caribbean,” he said. “We have begun to establish the app in Jamaica, and we expect to see a significant increase in business thanks to the app, as numerous
sources suggest that JUTA has 70 percent market share of the $120 million (pre-Covid-19) Jamaican taxicab industry. This is the first agreement between a taxicab union and a mobile app technology provider in the region, and we’re thrilled to be at the vanguard of contactless transportation and delivery in the Caribbean.”

How it works

Rydeum Caribbean will receive a percentage of gross bookings from JUTA that is “typical” for mobile transportation app providers, and Rydeum’s relationship with JUTA will position the company to expand
beyond transportation into delivery and other professional services that require drivers in Jamaica, according to the release. As part of the agreement, the Rydeum team will train JUTA employees and users in using the DoGetGo app.

Additionally, the Rydeum platform “can be adapted for many business-to-consumer and peerto-peer business needs, and OMHI intends to approach third party vendors in Jamaica to expand the use of DoGetGo throughout the country,” the release noted.

OneMart

Mr. Vanterpool founded OneMart in 1986 and the chain now
claims to now be the second-largest grocery store in the VI.

The new announcement is the latest in a series of ambitious expansion plans announced by the company.

In May, the company announced the start of construction of OM Builders Depot in the VI, aiming to provide lumber and other construction supplies to contractors throughout the Caribbean, and said it had broken ground on its second location, a 34,000- square-foot supermarket in Fat
Hogs Bay.

Mr. Vanterpool also announced the previous month that he had acquired the VI’s iconic Pusser’s food, beverage and clothing brand from its founder.

OMHI has been vocal about its plans to expand to the United States VI and elsewhere in the region.

Its US Securities and Exchange Commission filings state that it has nine operating lease agreements for supermarket, office and parking spaces in the VI and Miami.

Its operating lease assets total just over $23 million, according to the filings.

“With construction under way, our management team is aggressively looking for several additional sites in the Caribbean to build comparable stores,” Mr. Vanterpool said previously.


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