Barbados spent about $223 million on the importation of electronic goods in 2016.
Minister of Industry and Commerce Donville Inniss made the disclosure here Wednesday night as he welcomed the electronics store RadioShack back to Barbados.
Inniss acknowledged that the amount spent on electronics was “significant”. However, he cautioned that while it was important for Government to save foreign exchange, it could not do so at the expense of those interested in purchasing international brands.
“Of course our task is to continue to find ways in which we can earn the foreign exchange while allowing Barbadians to have these options, and I believe we are doing the right things in trying to find ways for these options.
“The reality about it is that we have to offer these options,” Inniss said, while stressing that “these brand names are known to people around the world”.
At a time when its parent company General Wireless Operations Inc is struggling to keep some of its United States stores open, RadioShack is making its comeback to Barbados after a 30-year absence under a different franchisee.
Unicomer (Barbados) Limited is the local franchise holder for the cash-strapped American retailer, which has filed for bankruptcy twice in as many years.
Managing Director Trisha Tannis said since opening of the new store in Sheraton Mall with four employees about a week ago the public response has been great. She also said there was a possibility of more RadioShack stores opening here in the near future as Unicomer remained “cautiously optimistic” about the performance of the Barbados economy.
“We are cautiously optimistic, and if you know anything about the Unicomer model and certainly Courts, we create our own reality. We really just use circumstances and believe they are temporary to rise to the occasion and to really use our innovative and creative selves to maintain and sustain the model for the good of our team members and broader stakeholders. It is very important that we continue to be positive and move forward,” said Tannis.
RadioShack filed for bankruptcy in 2015, resulting in the closure of about half the stores it had then. The electronics retailer again filed for bankruptcy in March this year, which should result in the closure of about 187 of its 1,500 remaining stores.