Emphatically declaring that “Barbados is fully open for business” Prime Minister Mia Mottley this evening welcomed Dutch Caribbean hardware megastore Kooyman Holding International as it broke ground at Kendal Hill, Christ Church.
Kooyman Barbados’ hardware megastore is expected to open in early 2020.
As she delivered the feature address, Mottley said the relocation here of Ross University School of Medicine and now Kooyman was an indication of investors’ faith in the country despite economic struggles.
It was a point that was confirmed by Kooyman’s chief executive officer Herbert van der Woude, who said the company saw Barbados as having “a good investment climate”.
Kooyman Barbados represents the 80-year-old company’s first venture outside the Dutch-speaking islands of Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao and St Maarten.
Said the Prime Minister: “The bottom line is that no one comes to invest the sum of money that is being invested here this afternoon unless they have confidence in the country, confidence in what is happening [and] confidence in the future of the country.
“I am happy therefore to welcome you this evening and say to you at Kooyman, that this for us represents a signal to all Barbadians and to the rest of the world that Barbados is fully open for business, that Barbados may not yet have reached its destination of where we want to after a decade of decline, but we are on that right road and that road means attracting persons both domestically and from outside to invest, because they believe that investment will attract a return.”
Mottley declared that in the space of nine months, her administration had been able to significantly improve the country’s financial position.
Acknowledging that it had not been an easy task, she said Barbados was now on the right track to recovery.
Mottley added: “The restructuring of an economy and the stopping of bleeding is not an easy thing to do, and it doesn’t send the right signals necessarily to those who may say ‘when it finishes I will come’. We have been able in the space of nine months not to do everything that has to be done, but we started a process such that people who are watching on see us passing the right road signs, see us on the right road and recognize that if we continue on this road we shall reach our destination.
“I hope Barbadians come to understand that growth is triggered not by closing inwards, but in fact by opening outwards…and that is why my Government is insistent on creating the space and the opportunities that will allow us to support Barbadian entrepreneurs because the measurement of our economic success cannot only be the GDP, but also the Gross National Income, the extent to which we export capital and from which we can earn from that capital which we export.”
But Mottley also called on domestic investors to show greater interest in business ventures at home.
She said that with limited Government finances, Barbadian investors needed to play a bigger part in fuelling capital projects, saying that there was “excess liquidity” in the economy.
Van der Woude explained that Barbados was a perfect location for the company to expand its brand.
Despite the current economic downturn, he expresssed confidence that the island would rebound.
The Kooyman CEO said: “We think Barbados has a good investment climate in the long term; political stability and steady yearly GDP growth. Secondly, in our four existing markets there are 320 000 inhabitants altogether so Barbados with its 290 000 inhabitants almost doubles our potential market.”
He also praised an independent judicial system, well-educated population, fair trade regulation and high ranking on the Transparency International Anti-Corruption list as other reasons for choosing Barbados.
Kooyman is to sell hardware, building materials, home decoration and paint on approximately 165,000 square-foot store at Kendal.
Construction is set to begin between April and May and is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2020.
Up to 250 people are expected to build the store which will employ between 100 to 120 people.