Phil's: 'Enough to go around' in food retail

By NATARIO McKENZIE Tribune Business Reporter nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net THERE'S "enough to go around" in the food retail business for everyone to turn a profit, according to Phil Lightbourne, owner of the Gladstone Road-based food retailer/wholesaler Phil's Food Services, who yesterday described the sector as a "tough market to be in". "There's enough room for the Phil's, the Budgets, and the Solomon's; there's enough room for everyone to make their money. The one with the best presentation, the best prices will bring more business, but there is enough to go around for everybody to be happy," Mr Lightbourne told Tribune Business. He said that even though his business had gained popularity as a major player in the food retail market, his name should not be compared to the likes of Solomon's, as he was a relatively new player with a 'different concept'. "Even though my name is out there, I came up with a different concept. As a player in the market, my name should not even be amongst the Solomon's and those," Mr Lughtbourne said. "I just started out. I'm still going through my growing pains. Phil's Food Service is a standalone business servicing the poor man. "When you are talking about a tough market to be in, this is the toughest market anyone wants to invest in, this retail food business. If you do it right and get the right set of people around you, it's like a smooth sailing day. When you talking about the retail business you have to run a tight ship to make that profit." Among the issues affecting retailers, Mr Lightbourne said, was the high cost of electricity. "The electricity bill is extremely high when dealing with such a business, and then it's the hours. It's not like a regular business dealing with 8am to 5pm, you are talking about a business operating from 7am to 10pm at night, six days a week, and from 7am to 7pm on Sunday. The labour cost is really intense. It's an awesome business once you get the support of the Bahamian people," he added. "With the Bahamian people you can't just push anything at them. You have to give them deals, and you have to make them feel important when they spend their money. "It's no pain, no gain. I'm real solid and I'm trying to maintain the market. I've never been in Robin Hood or Solomon's to see what they do. What they do does not affect my vision. There's no need to fight. I drive a bargain, I'm a tough guy when it comes to pricing. I believe in pleasing people by giving them choices." Mr Lightbourne said he was saddened to hear of the closure Robin Hood, stating that competition was good for the food retail industry. Tribune Business revealed on last week how Robin Hood was set to imminently close its Tonique Williams-Darling Highway flagship store following a liquidation sale to offload $1 million in stock, its president, Sandy Schaefer, saying the retailer had incurred a $3.6 million net loss in the past year. AML Foods chairman, Dionisio D'Aguilar, recently told Tribune Business thatthe Bahamian food retail market will ultimately be dominated by just three major players, Supervalue, AML Foods with its Solomon's SuperCentre and Cost Right formats, and the neighborhood food store chains/Mom and Pop businesses, suggesting that the long-anticipated food retailing shake-out would also claim the struggling City Markets supermarket chain. Mr D'Aguilar added that "the jury is still out" on the long-term future of Phil's Food Services, Mr D'Aguilar said many entrepreneurs entered food retailing with the mistaken notion they would automatically earn huge profits, with many attracted by the high sales volume food stores generated, failing to realise only a minute percentage of this made its way to the bottom line.


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