Mere hours after Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler chastised investors who failed to keep their promise, the Trinidadian conglomerate ANSA McAL said it was getting out of the supermarket business here.
Earlier this evening, ANSA McAL (Barbados) Limited announced that following a number of expressions of interest, a Request for Proposal was being issued regionally this week for the sale of its Trimart chain of supermarkets at Rendezvous, Christ Church; St Martin’s, St Philip and Mile & A Quarter, St Peter.
President and Chief Executive Officer Nicholas Mouttet said challenges with the construction of a new flagship store at Wildey were a factor in the decision.
He said the company, which had received conditional approval in the latter part of last year for the construction of the new supermarket to replace its closed Haggatt Hall branch, had “carefully reviewed” its position and had decided that “given the difficulties we would have with meeting the conditions, we could not go ahead with the project at our property in Wildey.
“We also determined that without a new flagship store, Trimart could not compete effectively for leadership in the supermarket sector, and would not be in a position to offer the kind of unmatched value we are expected to offer as a member of the ANSA McAL group.“ Mouttet explained.
“In addition, food retailing is not a core business for ANSA McAL, so we will be focusing on investing in our other businesses in Barbados and looking for further investment opportunities here,” the President and CEO added.
The surprise development has come in the wake of comments by Sinckler, who last night complained that close to 90 per cent of investment propositions that go before the Ministry of Finance fail to materialize.
Speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Senator Darcy Boyce at Rubis’ fifth anniversary celebration at The Cliff, he congratulated the company for its investment in the country over the years.
However, Sinckler said “scores” of investors would “pass through” his office on a daily basis, but few would stick to their promise to invest in the island.
“They pass there every day with big projects, grandiose ideas, lots of excitement and promises of massive amounts of investment and so forth and so on. You know, 90 per cent of those do not come to fruition. But we have to engage everybody.
“But the truth is that of the ten per cent that do come to fruition, we can say that they have made substantial contributions to moving the development of this
“And I can say without fear of contradiction that Rubis has been part of that ten per cent and has delivered,” stated Sinckler, as he encouraged the company to continue its investments in the country.
The minister said it was always pleasant when companies invested in Barbados and helped to grow the economy while experiencing the “pains” and enjoying the opportunities.
And with the sale of the Barbados National Terminal Company Limited (BNTCL) close to completion, Chief Executive Officer of Rubis Mauricio Nicholls was not prepared to say if his company was a contender.
When asked by Barbados TODAY if the company had made a bid or how much it was Mauricio said, “I really cannot comment on that”.
Sinckler had said recently that Government was awaiting a cheque from the winning bidder to finalize the sale of the BNTCL. He did not give details of the sale.
ANSA McCAL’s pullout has also come just one day after fellow Trinidadian investor Massy opened a brand new store in Sargeant’s Village, Christ Church.
The opening of Price Lo supermarket comes three months after Massy Stores closed its doors at the same venue.
Managing Director of Price Lo Ltd Randall Banfield pointed out that the new retail outlet, which currently has 35 employees, sought to challenge traditional supermarket thinking in Barbados by offering “unbelievably low prices, a comfortable shopping environment and great service all at the same time”.
Banfield also revealed that the Massy superstore scheduled to be constructed in Kendal Hill, Christ Church was “still very much on the cards”.