Sun | Dec 17, 2017

CashWiz flagship store for Portmore - Ten more pawn shops on the way

Published:Sunday | October 1, 2017 | 12:00 AMAvia Collinder
Regional manager of CashWiz Jamaica, Lilieth Douglas.
The McCastle building in Portmore.
1
2

CashWiz Jamaica will open its fifth pawnshop in Portmore, which will become its flagship operation, but the company has even bigger plans to roll out another 10 outlets in two years, to keep pace with demand.

Regional Manager Lilieth Douglas says the flagship store will be up and running in October.

The expansion comes seven years after CashWiz first made its debut in Jamaica. The pawn broker already operates stores in Montego Bay, where its first outlet was opened in 2010; Mandeville, Manchester; May Pen, Clarendon; and Kingston. It employs 39 people in total.

The Caribbean company, which started in the Turks & Caicos Islands, is now in 10 regional markets, the other eight being Antigua & Barbuda, Cayman Islands, The Bahamas, Grenada, Barbados, Dominica, St Kitts-Nevis, and St Vincent & the Grenadines.

"We are looking to expand operations in Jamaica with an additional 10 new locations by 2019," said Douglas. "Our next stop will be in Savanna-la-Mar in early 2018; then we head to Ocho Rios," she said.

The additional pawn shops will grow CashWiz Jamaica's workforce by 150, said Douglas, while noting that Jamaica is the company's largest market among the 10 countries in which the pawnbroker operates.

The plan for Portmore, a fast-growing municipality in St Catherine, has been in the making for five years, and represents US$1.5 million of investment, she said.

"Portmore is one of the island's most densely populated zones; CashWiz in the 'Sunshine City' will now provide employment opportunities for many Jamaicans and also provide our customers with a form of economic freedom and independence like never before," the regional manager said. The centre will employ approximately 15-20 workers.

CashWiz provides individuals and business with pawnbroking services that allows them to sell and pawn their properties for quick cash. The local CashWiz is operated as a short-term loan service provider by Jamaica Pawn Limited. That company's shareholders and directors are American Chad McGhee and Gethin Huckle of the United Kingdom, but the majority of the ownership is held through CashWiz Holdings Limited, according to Companies Office records.

 

WILLING TO BUY ANYTHING

 

CashWiz notes on its website that is willing to buy anything of value as long as it is in perfect working condition and is easy to monetise, from walk-ins, but also items such as cars, boats, aircraft, and real estate.

The most frequently pawned items by walk-in customers are DVDs, video games and consoles, jewellery, fine art, antiques, gold, silver and newer electronics, the company said.

"Our stores feature showrooms that offer an interesting variety of new and mint-condition merchandise of all kinds; from a pin to an anchor - jewellery, electronics, appliances and more. And, if we don't have it, we will source it for you," said Douglas.

"We do pawn (collateral loans), we buy anything of value, retail sales, layaway programme, and private or high-end loans and transactions. Our service is instant, our loan options are flexible, and you may borrow for as long as you want," she said.

The company has developed a robust secondary market for goods not redeemed. Those end up on the pawnshop's sales floor and currently account for more than 30 per cent of retail sales, the manager said.

The property chosen for the Portmore shop is a conspicuous one and likely to give the store high visibility - the McMaster family-owned 'Castle', which greets travellers as they exit the toll road at the Portmore Mall. Douglas indicated the site was selected for that very reason.

"Five years ago the building was 'claimed' as the CashWiz Flagship Store; today it is a reality. The Castle comes with much excitement and we found this fitting for the experience that CashWiz brings. We have now set a new level of quality standards for this industry," Douglas enthused.

CashWiz is not the only pawnbroker operating in Jamaica, but it is the most visible. The company claims an 80 per cent market share, saying its growth is based on customer satisfaction and the company's inventiveness.

"We respond with urgency to changing market needs, providing consistent solutions and services, maintaining high levels of quality standards which wins our customers respect and trust."

As to the risk that comes with the service, Douglas said they only conduct business after proper identification of customers, and continuously update their systems and technology to keep pace with global security standards.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com