The government has again been called upon to make business easier, after Massy Stores yesterday opened its biggest supermarket in the country without its unlicensed pharmacy division.
The company’s newest outlet in Edinburgh’s Brentwood development, Chaguanas, opened yesterday with a speech from Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon.
Massy Stores Managing Director Roxanne De Freitas said in her address “unfortunately our pharmacy has not yet received its license and we hope to obtain it this week”.
“We therefore ask the Minister to continue to work with us to simplify doing business in Trinidad and Tobago, as this encourages investment and allows projects to bear fruit sooner,” said De Freitas.
The Brentwood outlet has been under construction for about 11 years and is the largest store to open in Trinidad during the pandemic.
Gopee-Scoon later said that “the retail experience is an integral part of our lives and is playing a catalytic role in revitalizing our economy”.
“According to the Central Statistical Office (CSO), in 2019 the sector comprised around 8,656 business establishments, contributes around 13% or around $20.3 billion annually to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs over of 78,000 people,” the minister said.
Gopee-Scoon commended Massy Stores for “continuously providing and expanding the use of local and regional products” and for investing in the borough of Chaguanas.
The new store in Massy offers adapted opening hours to accommodate seniors, curbside collection, self-service checkout and an on-site ATM, among a range of services. It also accepts government-issued food cards.
De Freitas noted the challenges businesses like supermarkets face in keeping prices low with “a huge supply chain and inflationary pressures.”
De Freitas went on to inform shoppers that planning meals and weekly shopping saves money.
“Make a list and take what you need,” De Freitas said.
Executive Chairman, Integrated Retail Portfolio, Massy Group, David Affonso, noted that the outlet was the company’s 23rd in T&T and 61st in the region.
Affonso was among those who spoke of challenges under the Covid-19 pandemic and “some seem to be waiting and hoping things will settle down, get back to normal, in Massy stores we don’t”.
He said some might say the past two years have been “softer” for the supermarket industry, but they have been some of the toughest and “it’s not over yet”.
Over the past two years, the company has embarked on its “fastest expansion campaign in history, opening 13 new stores in the region in just 18 months”, which were planned before the start of the pandemic.
Three stores were opened in Trinidad, Arima, Freeport and San Juan, while five were in Saint Lucia, three in Guyana and one each in Barbados and Saint Vincent.
Massy also gave more than $1 million to his staff and associates in recognition of their efforts, he said, among a series of employee benefit programs in which Massy recorded his “investment the highest ever achieved in love and care”.
Massy CEO Gervase Warner also spoke, who praised the developers of Brentwood Caribbean Housing Ltd and its founder, Dr Krishna Bahadoorsingh, for the quality of the infrastructure.
Warner said he felt “in Miami” entering the development and went on to highlight the role of supermarkets in bringing communities together.
Noting the disruptions to the global supply chain, Warner said the world was facing “crazy, crazy inflation” and some goods were running out of stock.
Warner said that among the ways Massy Stores is trying to navigate this is to source and buy more locally.