Telecommunications provider Ozone Wireless Incorporated may be down, but it is certainly not out.
This was the assurance given by one company spokesman today, even as the doors to its Manor Lodge offices remained closed for business.
Today, a new sign was posted on its glass doors which said that Ozone was currently closed for stocktaking, but would resume normal business on Monday.
In support of that notice, herbalist Dr Nicholas Kelly, a leading shareholder and investor in Ozone Wireless, vehemently denied a report carried in another section of the Press which said the company was bankrupt and had been forced to shut down its operations.
“I am saddened to read reports in the media that Ozone Wireless has shut down. This is simply not true,” Dr Kelly said in response to the Weekend Nation newspaper report.
However, in support of Barbados TODAY’s reporting on the matter, he explained that over the past six months the firm had been faced with a variety of business options which would determine its future, “including a possible sale that could not happen”.
Barbados TODAY had been reliably informed earlier this month that less than a year after setting up shop in Barbados, Ozone faced possible takeover by its competitor Flow after earlier talks with Digicel went belly up. However, it was not clear from Dr Kelly’s comments whether the possible Flow takeover was also now off the cards.
However, he said Ozone was by no means dead in the water even though its staff compliment has virtually been depleted since it officially began operating here last July.
The mass departures began back in April this year, with Managing Director Mark Conway, Chief Executive Officer Sylvain Tassé and Head of Marketing Dianne Squires among those who surprisingly parted ways with the island’s newest telecoms provider.
Since then, the company, which has been experiencing severe financial challenges over the past several months, has either severed or lost several key staff members leading up to this week’s virtual lock out of customers who showed up at Manor Lodge to find the doors locked tight and lights out in the Ozone building.
However, Dr Kelly maintained today that there was considerable demand for the company’s services such as number portability and voice over LTE which allowed most phones to make calls on the network without the use of an application.
Today, he also sought to blame the “old” management for keeping him and staff members in the dark regarding the true state of the company’s financial position.
“The old management decided they could not wait for these changes to arrive and unfortunately failed to communicate the real picture to staff members, which led to the current situation,” he said.
However, the leading shareholder said he was now taking a more active role in the future management of Ozone.
“Things are already getting back on track. We have to do major restructuring and our lawyers are working with our dedicated team to ensure a seamless transition to the new face of Ozone. Please rest assured that Ozone is in good hands and not going anywhere. Our store at Manor Lodge will reopen to the public on Monday, July 2,  after we complete a full stock take,” he said in a written statement emailed to Barbados TODAY.
Dr Kelly also said he regretted the inconvenience caused to customers by the three-day closure of its headquarters and planned to make it up to them shortly, but did not elaborate.
Today, one Ozone worker told Barbados TODAY she was currently on holiday awaiting the merger with Flow.
Meanwhile, customers have been posting angry comments on social media, complaining that they have been paying their bills, but not receiving service.
Ozone was granted a licence to operate in Barbados in 2014 and had pumped about $20 million into its operations up to the point of opening.
Officials had promised at the time that the company would hire over 50 people – over 90 per cent of whom would be Barbadians – while promising over 600 locations across the island where customers could recharge their credit.
Efforts to reach Dr Kelly for further clarification on its position were unsuccessful up to publication time.