John Fernandes – A household name in Guyana

John Fernandes – A household name in Guyana

September 20, 2012 By Guyana Times

John Fernandes Ltd is one of the largest and well known companies in Guyana and around the world, including the Caribbean, which has, since its founding, branched into several other business ventures across the country.

Current JFL CEO/Chairman Chris Fernandes (right)

First Chairman John Fernandes Snr    

JFL’s Off Port Terminal on Mandela Avenue, Ruimveldt

Already existing as a small shipping business on a Water Street pier rented by first chairman the late John Fernandes Snr in the 1940s, the company was formally established Oct. 15, 1959. Fernandes was also president of the St. Stanislaus College Association, and received the CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) award by royal appointment in 1965 for his public service in British Guiana.

In February 1962, the young company’s offices, wharf and warehouse were destroyed by fire during political riots in the city but were rebuilt shortly after. Despite the nationalisation drive of the PNC under the late former president Burnham during the 1970s, when major companies like Bookers and Sprostons were acquired by government, JFL managed to remain a private entity, and has gone on to receive awards for its services, including its most recent Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Long Service Award.

Over the years, the company began, acquired and became involved in various business ventures. The company’s most recent venture has been JPS Trading Inc, which was founded in 2006. Among others, it also owns Bounty Farm Ltd, a poultry producing company registered in 1976; Fairfield Investments Limited, established in 1985 for rice cultivation and poultry production, and Fernandes Holdings Ltd., a Real Estate Holding Company registered in 1991.

While JFL was founded as, and has remained, a fully owned, private family business, it also owns shares in some of its enterprises, including JP Santos and Company Ltd, a property and investment company that was established in 1910, from which JPS Trading Inc. evolved as a retail trading company that now operates three supermarkets.

When Fernandes Snr retired in 1970, the business was then run by three of his sons: John Jnr who migrated to the US in 1978, Bernard “Bunny” Fernandes who succeeded John Jr and retired in 1992, and current CEO and chairman Chris Fernandes who took over the reins in 1992 upon the retirement of elder brother Bunny. Chris had been involved in the business since the death of John Fernandes Snr in 1982. Today, third generation members are also involved in the company.

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  • wycs  On 09/30/2012 at 9:25 pm

    Bunny Fernandes was deceased in the early 1990 when Chris took over the business. This is a family business and well managed. Yes, this is a household name in Guyana which was founded by John sr in the 1950’s and still going strong.

  • BERNARD N. SINGH  On 09/30/2012 at 11:46 pm


  • travelconnexxionsClaude Ho  On 10/01/2012 at 12:35 am

    A family business that has successfully withstood the rigors of doing business in Guyana. Keep going strong.

  • Elsie Yong  On 10/01/2012 at 2:19 pm

    Attended a talk given by the late John Fernandes Snr., decades ago at the Pegasus Hotel which was sponsored by the Jaycees. The late John Fernandes, if my memory serves me correct, began his working career at Bettencourts, then ventured into the wood grant business, selling wood and charcoal, which he eventually gave up and moved into shipping and then insurance. His life story has been inspirational, that of a business man who adapted to the changes of the socioeconomic times. Even at that time his philanthropic works was well known

  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On 10/01/2012 at 4:39 pm

    A successful Guyanese business enterprise for all Guyanese to be proud of and to learn from.

  • JOAN DE OLIVEIRA  On 10/01/2012 at 8:42 pm

    As a little girl, I remember John Fernandes Snr. and his family, then living in Sabrian Ville near the sea, near Kitty, they used to pass down Queen St., Kitty where I lived, every day…I remember tall and lanky, Bunny, riding his bicycle…..the family was kind and good….I remember when John Fernandes was the mayor of Kitty Village…….a company or companies that lasted for generations, in a place like Guyana, is amazing…………Joan de Oliveira

  • Jan  On 10/02/2012 at 2:39 am

    The kind of historical data that Elsie Young gave would make interesting reading – a kinf of biography.
    I remember Mr. John Fernandes SNR. giving inspiratonal talks on the radio in the 1950″s on Sundays on ZFY. He would always end with “… and thanks for listening.” Are any tapes around?

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