Officials of the local department store Woolworth FW & Company (Barbados) Limited want to establish a second location in Barbados.
However, based on the latest Central Bank report in which 0.5 per cent growth was reported last year in spite of a strong tourism performance, the company’s managing director Martin Bryan told Barbados TODAY the planned $2 to $3 million investment still seemed to be a “risky proposition” at the moment.
“Not that I am averse to risk, but it has to be calculated risk and I just don’t think the time is right at the moment. But at the end of the day if an opportunity was to come around and I get a good deal, then you weigh your pros and cons and you go with it,” he told Barbados TODAY, adding, “it is something that we will do for sure. It is just a matter of when.”
Pressed to provide details on the planned expansion, he said: “It all depends on the economy, but I would like to think that this store [Woolworth] will have another branch outside of Bridgetown in the foreseeable future so that those customers that don’t like Bridgetown or don’t want to come in Bridgetown have an option.
“Somewhere with a car park they [customers] can drive in, hopefully along a bus route. It may not be as big as this store. But maybe if we can get something, maybe half this size, to carry the basic needs, that is the way I would like it to go. But with the uncertainty of the economy right now we are going to see how everything unfolds before we make a step forward,” he added.
While expressing optimism of a turnaround in the local economy, Bryan argued that it would take much more than a stellar tourism performance for this to be achieved.
“I would like to think that we are going to have some growth. Truthfully, tourism by all accounts seems to be doing well. Hopefully the spin-off of that would be that everyone in the industry will be getting more money than they used to be getting before, including the waitresses, the water ski operators, the taxi men, anybody involved directly or indirectly in the industry.
“The spin-off then will happen here. But for us to really look to expand I can’t see us looking to expand now unless I was to get sustained growth for say a year or
year-and-a-half,” he stressed.
While acknowledging that the Wyndham and Hyatt hotel projects were scheduled to start this year, Bryan said, “I have been hearing about these projects, and I have been hearing about these projects, but I am not seeing anything”.
He said when the ground breaks on a big project that was when the “buzz” would be created and investors would be confident of coming back to Barbados.
In a separate interview with Barbados TODAY, another local investor, Glyn Partridge, owner of 10 Saints Brewery Company Limited, said while there was “a sense of recovery among some business people and some consumers”, the recovery was “perhaps a pending one than an actual recovery.
“I think a lot depends which sector the business is in,” said Partridge.
“We see tourism picking up, and that is a big part of our business and tourism should have a trickle down effect for everybody else, but I think anything stronger than that is yet to come,” he added.
“Certainly if more projects get off the ground, we see some development now and some refurbishment of hotels, I think if that can pick up there is definitely a knock on effect there,” added Partridge.