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Island Luck Ceo Hits Out At Rupert Roberts

Sebas Bastian, owner of Island Luck.

Sebas Bastian, owner of Island Luck.

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Rupert Roberts

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

ISLAND Luck CEO Sebas Bastian took to social media on Monday to blast Super Value owner Rupert Roberts over his recent claim that web shop gaming was eating into the supermarket chain’s revenues.

Mr Bastian countered that Mr Roberts' claim was unsubstantiated, and suggested that changes in consumer behaviour were linked to the chain's “uncompetitive high prices”.

He speculated whether Mr Roberts' claim was motivated by his unsuccessful bid to join the industry through a partnership with Bahama Dreams, that would have seen gaming kiosks installed at Super Value stores.

“What evidence do you have that VAT and gaming is taking business away from you and more importantly exactly how VAT and gaming is taking away this business?” Mr Bastian posted on Facebook.

“Organised gambling has been prevalent in this country for well over 60 years, how is it that only in 2016 gaming is taking away your business? How is it that other grocery store chains focused on offering their customers value through competitive grocery prices are reporting that their 2016 Christmas sales and profitability increased compared to last year?”

Mr Bastian added: “And finally, is it possible that your declining sales may be related to your uncompetitive high prices and a general change in consumer behaviour as a result of your high prices?”

Mr Roberts told Tribune Business last Friday that sales revenue was down at least two per cent compared to the previous Christmas shopping period, something he also attributed to the impact of Value-Added Tax (VAT) on consumer spending and disposable income.

The Super Value owner is the latest businessman to slam the web shop industry’s impact on consumers and other sectors of the economy.

Mario Cartwright, a co-founder and past president of the Long Island Chamber of Commerce, while addressing the island’s Business Outlook in December, blasted web shops as a “scourge” that is “drying up” the economy, with residents prioritising gambling above everything else.

Mr Roberts said: "What they said to me was that VAT is taking 7.5 per cent from us, and they agreed on a figure; that gaming was taking an average of 30 per cent from us. It’s devastating the economy. It’s taking the school fees, the BEC money and everything - everything out of the economy.”

However, Mr Bastian noted that the "mystical siphoning" of revenue by the gaming industry occurred at a time when web shops purchased over $100,000 worth of gift certificates from the supermarket chain "to distribute and provide relief and donations to those less fortunate persons in our society negatively impacted by Hurricane Matthew.”

"Is it possible that Mr Roberts is still angry and harbours negative feelings for the web shop industry and its participants because of his unsuccessful bid to become an industry participant himself?” Mr Bastian wrote.

“Maybe, instead of blaming VAT and gaming for their sales decline, Mr Roberts and his managers should find it within themselves to demonstrate an inkling of business acumen and professionalism and perform a proper analysis of their operations, markets, customers, products and prices.”

He continued: “Upon doing so, they would immediately discover the following: Organised gambling has been endemic in the Bahamian economy for well over 60 years, so the fact that it would only begin to take sales away from his stores in 2017 is just not reasonable. The white merchant class Bay Street Boys, of which Roberts is a member, have had a stranglehold on our domestic economy for over half a century.

"Up to this point they have been able to autocratically make and set prices in most sectors in the domestic economy. The average Bahamian consumer up to this point had very little options or choice but to accept and take whatever exorbitant price the Bay Street Boys set for retail goods and groceries."

Mr Bastian furthered that the average Bahamian consumer was a price taker; but unrelenting economic conditions have led to a new class of Bahamian entrepreneurship and a proliferation of local companies offering procurement and courier services to import goods from foreign markets. He forecast that the trend will continue to “erode Super Value’s sales and befuddle Mr Roberts and his clueless managers”.

"What this means," Mr Bastian wrote, "is that the average Bahamian consumer can now purchase their goods from the same suppliers that Mr Roberts and Super Value purchase their goods from and even after paying courier fees and duty will still able to save over 50 per cent compared to Roberts' exorbitant prices."

Mr Bastian pointed to a Tribune Business report from the chairman of the Pricing Control Commission last year, in which the commission admonished local food stores, particularly Super Value, for not having necessary documents to justify high prices on extended breadbasket items. He condemned the practice as “unconscionable”.

Comments

concernedcitizen 9 months, 1 week ago

Bahamians have not had mini casinos where they can sit and "spin" away hundreds and even thousands of dollars in a day ,and the majority of the "hooked" ones where I live are women

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sheeprunner12 9 months, 1 week ago

Roberts and Bastian are brothers on both sides of the same coin ......... they have more in common than we wish to elaborate on ......... both are successful opportunists

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Porcupine 9 months, 1 week ago

So, because the Bay Street Boys had a stranglehold on the Bahamian economy for 50 years, now it is time for some of our own to fleece the poor and to suck the economy dry. At least when you go to the food store you can bring something back home. .

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C2B 9 months, 1 week ago

At lest he used the word "endemic" to describe his business. It is a disease and he knows it. He doesn't let his glass house stop him from casting rocks.

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arussell 9 months, 1 week ago

Mr Roberts is indeed correct! The gaming industry is robbing the poor people in this country.....

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hnhanna 9 months, 1 week ago

I know several person’s lights are off due to gambling

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Shirley 9 months, 1 week ago

No. Their light is off due to stupidity.

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pablojay 9 months, 1 week ago

The PLP should be kicked out of office for many things,but in my view and from what i have seen,the worst thing by far is the legalisation of the Web Shops. i sometimes frequent them and i can tell many horror stories concerning them, including a lady who told me that she broke a $60,000 fix deposit and does not know where the money went,being a witness to a young mother who opened her pay envelope in a web shop,then after "spinning",furiously cried that she has no money for her baby's pampers,a web shop security saying that if he wanted to , he can get any sexual favour up to four times a day for less than $40 from decent women who are hooked on "spinning" and many more. I must also admit that i have lost some money there, but thank God i am now able to limit my playing to what i can afford and not spin When you think of all that the web shop owners have and that fact that it was obtained from those who can least afford it, it is quite sad.

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C2B 9 months, 1 week ago

How is that sand down there Mr. Bastian? Your head is firmly planted in it. You can fool most Bahamians most of the time it seems but no amount of turkey giveaways can mask the fact that your fortune came from somewhere.....the people who could afford it least. These gaming houses have grown like mushrooms and no changing the topic will hide this basic fact. Supervalue being overpriced has nothing to do with how you accumulated your wealth. Prove otherwise. The ridiculousness of your position is evident by your wealth. Really simple.

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athlete12 9 months, 1 week ago

We cannot blame Sebas because the government allowed him to attain his wealth and ofcourse they were paid off. And they are extremely stupid for doing it because all of the Bahamian people's money is put into his bank account.

Sucked completely out of they economy. The Government could have legalized gambling houses of their own and maybe build better schools,roads,community parks, pay the deficit, pay teachers on time, the list go own. But no they give it to a few men who drain the economy and take advantage of the poorest of Bahamians.

Who vote for these people? Who just want to build hotels which also take money out of they economy.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 9 months, 1 week ago

THANKS TO CROOKED CHRISTIE IGNORING THE OUTCOME OF A PUBLIC REFERENDUM, THIS FOOKING LITTLE PRICK SEBAS BASTIAN (LIKE CRAIG FLOWERS) HAS YOUNG BAHAMIAN CHILDREN, INCLUDING THOUSANDS OF HELPLESS INFANTS, GOING WITHOUT FOOD, MEDICINES AND BASIC CLOTHING.

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Reality_Check 9 months, 1 week ago

And you will never hear The Tribune or its owners speaking out on a sustained basis against the corrupt racketeering numbers bosses like Sebas Bastian and Craig Flowers because of the advertising dollars thrown their way by these low life thugs!

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i_land_boy 9 months, 1 week ago

While i agree with points from both sides, neither are 100% correct. While Roberts business supply groceries, its not all gravy. selling food here is a huge risk, power cuts and the mere fact that everything has to arrive here by boat mandate a price premium. When food goes bad on the shelf, there is no money for that. That is a loss, including the duty paid on those items. All sebas does is take money, gambling houses always win.

Whats worse is admitting there is a problem, and doing nothing.....

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Zakary 9 months, 1 week ago

While I’m very much against the legalization of web shops, let’s be real, people are voluntarily giving Sebas and crew money.

Gambling is a voluntary tax for mostly poor fools and rich people, I’m sorry. You help some around here and they gamble all the damn money away.

There’s a lot of people who shut their mouths when money lines their pockets, and that’s just the way this screwed up place works. Roberts and Sebas are both fighting for their own business interests.

But I also believe in personal responsibility. Christian nation? What a great and marvelous lie. Children under the age of 15 experience the greatest level of poverty in this country.

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C2B 9 months, 1 week ago

Complete and utter nonsense!! This is an addiction and you are blaming the addict not the dealer. Nice try. There is nothing to lose by banning these gaming houses now. not tomorrow, now. Wake up Bahamas

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CMon_Man 9 months, 1 week ago

C2B, today we had different groups of persons march in a symbolic celebration of "Majority Rule Day" which supposedly ushered in constitutional, economic, social, cultural and political rights, freedoms and opportunities for all Bahamians. On this very same day you are insulting Zakary as "complete and utter nonsense" for merely stating what those persons were marching for today. Once again we have squandered an excellent opportunity to have a constructive dialogue yet the best we can do is barroom talk. You may want to take a look at the mirror as you utter the phrase complete and utter nonsense.
Gambling, alcoholic beverage sales, cigarette sales, sweethearting, tiefing, promiscuity, the peddling of food, grocery, medicine and other products in the Caribbean that have been deemed hazardous and unfit for human consumption/handling in developed countries, air pollution and radioactive waste associated with these used Japanese cars all have the common feature of negative externalities or social costs. Some of these activities we have a choice as to whether or not to engage and others we do not. With gambling as with Alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, promiscuity, sweethearting etc. we choose to participate. Where is the similar outrage for alcohol beverage sales which has wrecked similar societal and family wreckage?

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bandit 9 months, 1 week ago

No one is putting a gun to anyone's head in the Bahamas and telling them that they have to gamble in those web shops. For years Bahamian could not gamble in the casinos because of this very same problem that is happening now where people are addicted. Gambling is almost at addictive as smoking crack. It's a choice that these people are making and they have to take responsibility for their bad choice. Granny also said, you made you bed now you have to lay in it.

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i_land_boy 9 months, 1 week ago

we have not been allowed to gamble in casinos because that money pretty much leaves the country directly. this is why all casinos here are in US dollars. Please get your facts straight.

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bandit 9 months, 1 week ago

If you truly think that is the main reason why locals are not able to gamble in the casinos then you have been living in La La land. Every sensible person knows that gambling is highly addictive and the result if government had allowed locals to participate in casino gamble would have been even more of a disaster than what is currently happening with this web shop. If you think that lights and food shopping are suffering from these web shops, let government allow locals to gamble in the casinos and you surely see the results. Are you saying the Bahamian don't have access to US dollars??/ and that the reason why they can't gamble in casinos?? Everyone except you knows that casinos gamble has been and continues to be a sscourge on society whereever it exist.

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i_land_boy 9 months, 1 week ago

Numbers houses Contribute absolutely nothing of value to the bahamas, even the taxes they contribute come at a high cost to society, and could be obtained through far better means.

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sheeprunner12 9 months, 1 week ago

So true ............ many people cannot pay their main bills because they gamble away their earnings/savings

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sealice 9 months, 1 week ago

AND LIKE A TRUE PLP HE HAS TO THROW A LITTLE RACISM IN AT THE END JUST SO EVERYONE IS REMINDED OF WHO HE'S GONNA HELP BUY THE NEXT ELECTION..... JUST AS RACIST AS ANY WHITE ASS BAY STREET BOY EVER WAS....

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reverendrichlkemp 9 months, 1 week ago

How to get the white man's attention? TOUCH HIS MONEY...especially a black man. If Mr. Sebas was a Conkie Joe( white Bahamian), we would NEVER hear from Roberts, who has mad millions from the black population. It is a slap in the face to all Bahamians and yes hidden racism by the government for not allowing Bahamians to gamble in the casinos. Last time I checked money is money and to if it's good for the tourists they it should and must be also GOOD for Bahamians. It is time to over throw, over rule and get rid of that law. I live in the USA, in Florida to be exact, and I see many Bahamians ( including Bahamian religious leaders )visiting Florida gamble in the casinos here...and they behave very respectfully like everyone when they lose or win. Unlike Roberts, Mr. Sebas contributes greatly to the people of the Bahamas...one would be blind or plain dishonest to disagree. Ask those Bahamians who are enjoying their new houses or automobile, etc...How many houses or cars have Roberts given to the many Bahamians who fill his pockets with millions of dollars. Roberts provide a service and Mr. Sebas provides a service. But only one of them gives back and it's not Roberts. So stop your hating Roberts because a black man is prospering and prospering others, perhaps you should do as he does and you won't have the time to complain and point ya finger. Mr. Sebas is practicing the Ancient Wisdom Universal Law of PROSPERITY, which states : " GIVE and it shall be GIVEN unto you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over shall people give unto you." Roberts, don't HATE, PARTICIPATE !

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