One of Barbados’ most prominent supermarket operators is warning shoppers not to expect any ease in economic conditions over the next three years – as he unveiled plans for a new shopping mall, within a year, at Six Roads.
The economic forecast came as Carlton and A1 Supermarkets founder Andrew Bynoe announced a 15 million-dollar investment in a new ‘J.B. Simpson Mall’.
The mall is named for Bynoe’s mentor and former employer, John Brian ‘J.B.’ Simpson, from whom he took over ownership of the original A-1 Supermarket at Wildey three decades ago. The supermarket pioneer died in February, aged 82.
The mall, on a three-acre property adjacent to Bynoe’s Emerald City supermarket and shopping complex, is expected to begin in another month, to be opened by October 2019, he told journalists.
The mall will offer prospective tenants shop space ranging from 400 square feet to 1,600 square feet, he said.
“I have confidence that this Government has the ability to turn this economy around. The measures that the Government is taking to turn this economy around, I am confident that in three years’ time we should be buoyant again within this economy. So, we are taking the risk as it were, at this stage in putting this JB Simpson Mall in place,” Bynoe announced, following a tour of his St Philip supermarket by members of the Ministry of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce.
He said Barbadians had been constrained by a lack of disposable income over the last two years especially and he did not expect conditions to improve any time soon given the current economic challenges.
“Generally speaking, I would say that business has tightened over the last two years especially in these hard economic times, and we expect that it is going to get tighter. Not only us, but certainly in this country, business will get tighter,” said Bynoe.
He called on both consumers and business people to “button down” in a “very tight economy”.
“The Government has to do certain things that obviously will create some pressure within this economy. So we expect that,” Bynoe warned.
But the entrepreneur said he has already received some interest in the planned mall from department stores and food store operators, suggesting that such an investment was needed at this time.
In welcoming the mall development at its launch, Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce Dwight Sutherland suggested that much of the growth the struggling economy needed should come from local investment.
“This maps right into Government’s restructuring plan because we recognize that growth has to come from local investment. We have this local investor investing $15 million in this economy at a time like this it augurs well for the country,” said Sutherland, as he praised Bynoe and his team for the capital injection.
Pointing out that the new shopping mall would create jobs, Sutherland said it would also generate increased commercial activity in St Philip, while pointing to the approximately 400 employees at Bynoe’s stores, the adjoining Emerald City store and Black Rock’s Carlton and A1.
Stressing that the retail and wholesale trade was critical to economic recovery over the next three to four years, Sutherland told journalists that freighting and entrepreneurship also stood to benefit greatly from a boost in the distribution industry.