Retailer’s $10m spend creates up to 70 job


Tribune Business Editor


A Bahamian retailer yesterday said its $10m eastern New Providence investment, which has created 60-70 jobs, attracted more consumer traffic than expected during Saturday’s opening.

Don Davis, Quality Home Centre’s general manager, joked to Tribune Business that he can now “relax and take a vacation” after supervising the department store’s expansion through a trying two-year period that included both the COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricane Dorian.

Affirming that the second location, situated on Prince Charles Drive immediately east of the former Robin Hood store, had been planned from 2019, he added that many customers who attended the weekend’s opening voiced relief that they no longer have to trek to the Mall at Marathon or further west to obtain housewares, furnishings and fixtures.

“It was a little better than I expected,” Mr Davis told this newspaper of the consumer response to the 83,000 square foot store’s opening. “We had a continuous flow of traffic. A lot of people came in to do shopping pre-Christmas. We had 20 percent off store-wide, getting people to come in.

“A lot of people from the east were happy we are out there. They came in and said: ‘We’re happy you guys are out there because we had to travel all the way to Carmichael Road before.” He confirmed that Quality Home Centre’s second location has created 60-70 jobs much-needed jobs as the economy continues to struggle with the post-COVID recovery.

“It’s a little over $10m the total investment,” Mr Davis said, adding: “Now I can relax and take a vacation because I’ve been managing this project myself.” Besides moving Quality Home Centre closer to the large population and consumer base in eastern New Providence, the Prince Charles Drive location also enables it to diversify and expand its revenue and profit streams.

Voicing optimism that Prince Charles Drive’s performance will soon match that of its inaugural store, located at the junctions of Blue Hill Road and Carmichael Road next door to the Southwest Plaza, he added: “There are a lot of people out east who don’t like fighting the traffic to go to the Mall, so I’m expecting equal [performance]; about the same.”

Mr Davis also affirmed that Quality Home Centre is focused on bedding in its new store, and has no further expansion ambitions at present. “I’ll stick with those two for right now,” he said. “There’s none in the works.”

The pre-Christmas opening also fulfills Mr Davis’ ambition, as stated in a previous interview with this newspaper, to open at Prince Charles before the 2021 holiday season. It only narrowly missed the Black Friday and Thanksgiving shopping period. The section of Prince Charles where it is located is becoming a major commercial destination, with a Go Postal site also having just been constructed across the road.

The second outlet will provide increased competition for Kelly’s Home Centre at the Mall at Marathon, as the Prince Charles Drive site gives Quality Home Centre a proximity advantage to consumers in areas such as Winton, Yamacraw and Nassau East.

The first Quality Home Centre involved a $9m investment when it opened a decade ago just before Thanksgiving 2011. The inaugural 50,000 square foot outlet sought to provide such a wide range of products that Bahamians would no longer have to travel to the US to shop.

Around 80 staff were hired initially for the first store, with its principals - Mr Davis and his brother, Trevor - then harbouring ambitions to stock up to 40,000 products.

The product mix included a toys department; Christmas decorations; clothing for adults and children; hardware and paints; and mirrors, lamps, tables and fixtures; plus barbecues, fridges and couches. Before the Quality Home Centre, they had already launched the 8,000 square foot Q Club on Mackey Street.

Tribune Business was initially informed that Quality Home Centre was acquiring or leasing the neighbouring site that hosts the former Robin Hood store, but this ultimately proved not to be the case.

Leigh Rodney, the Compass Point owner, who holds a mortgage on that site as security for loans he previously advanced to Sandy Schaefer, the Robin Hood owner who has since departed The Bahamas, revealed that while Quality Home Centre and its principals had looked at his property the two sides were unable to reach a deal.

“They looked at the building, said the price was too high and ended up building a property right next door behind the church,” Mr Rodney disclosed. “They approached me a year or two ago. They said this building was a tear down, it was not a solid building, which was not the case. It seemed as if they were negotiating just to buy the land.”

The Compass Point chief, who was embroiled in controversy with the former Minnis administration over plans to close that resort due to its failure to address his concerns over the hotel licensing regime and other issues, said he had been trying to sell the former Pepsi Cola and Robin Hood site “ever since Sandy Schaefer left the island” some years ago.

“It hasn’t been overly busy,” he added, in terms of buyer inquiries. “We’ve kept the sign up. There’s a limited number of people that will come to The Bahamas looking for a 40,000 square foot industrial building.

“I have approached a couple of people in The Bahamas that I recognise as being good businessmen, saying how about making me a partner and you can move into this larger building? I’ll be your landlord and partner, and it will be a good deal for you. You can become the size of a Bahamas Food Services. I’ve not found anyone to make that leap.”


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