The Barbados economy is getting a major boost as local fast-food chain Chefette Restaurants embarks on two major construction projects over the next two years and hires hundreds.
During a groundbreaking ceremony On Tuesday, the company officially announced the construction of a multi-million dollar, state-of-the-art ice cream manufacturing plant and a meat processing plant at its Lears, St Michael site. He also revealed plans for a mega family entertainment centre to be constructed at the Newton, Christ Church location.
Managing Director Ryan Haloute opted not to disclose the value of the investment, but said it was an indication of the company’s confidence in the local economy.
The project in Lears and Newton will employ some 150 people between them during the construction phase, and when completed will hire a combined total of 350 people, bringing the company’s total employment figures to just over 1,200.
Construction at Lears is to be completed by summer 2021, while construction at the Newton location, which was first scheduled to open in the first half of 2019 after ground broke in 2017, is to start before month-end and be completed by Christmas 2022.
“With these two large projects, it really shows our commitment not only to the Government but to our country as a whole, investing in people,” said Haloute.
The manufacturing of its own local brand, Frosteez, will end the decades-old contract between Chefette Restaurants and its current ice cream supplier out of Trinidad and Tobago.
Additionally, with the capacity to produce over eight million litres of ice cream products annually, the Frosteez brand is expected to provide some competition to local ice cream maker BICO Ltd.
The ice cream plant will sit on about 16, 000 square feet of land while the meat processing manufacturing plant will take up about 28, 000 square feet sharing a two-storey space with the company’s corporate offices and modern training facility.
“These two buildings here are really our push into the manufacturing arm, not only to launch our trademark name Frosteez to make ice cream locally in Barbados instead of importing it, but to sell it to the local market and the wider region,” Haloute told the gathering, which included several government ministers, Prime Minister Mia Mottley and private sector officials.
The projects are being funded through the CIBC FirstCaribbean bank.
Pointing out that the company would produce more than just ice cream, Haloute said the Chefette was keen on earning foreign exchange for the country.
“And we will be coming after many of you here today for the gas stations, hotels and restaurants so that we can cater to you once we can meet your price point and quality. That is our plan in a nutshell for those two buildings,” he said.
The original plan for the new 80, 000 square feet, multi-storey building in Christ Church has been upgraded, and will now become the single largest investment project for Chefette to date.
This location, which will be the 16th for the company, will consist of a Chefette restaurant, drive-thru, an ice-cream parlour, BBQ Barn and a double mega three-storey playground on five acres of land.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley said Chefette’s multi-million dollar investment was an indication of the company’s intention to do what she has been calling on all Barbadians to do – stay the course.
“We have to celebrate companies that are staying the course and transitioning from generation to generation. Barbados is not short of businesses, but short of businesses that endure,” said Mottley.
Stating that manufacturing powerhouse China did not reach its current capacity by planning for only three or seven years, Mottley insisted that what matters is staying the course.
Adding that it was time for the company to “up de ting and move to the next level”, Mottley said the Chefette should now become the first choice for cruise ships and Caribbean neighbours to source some of the Chefette brands.
She said the significant investment in the build-out of the company’s chain and manufacturing arm was an expression of “the most ultimate statement of confidence in the future of this country and in the management of its affairs”.
“We know that having stabilized this economy, the only way out is through growth. And for those who ask for concrete investment analysis, I say simply to them count the projects one by one. I look forward to being able to participate in a number of similar activities over the course of the next few months,” said Mottley.