Super Plus shutters another two St andrew supermarkets
Published: Wednesday | April 15, 2009
Super Plus New Kingston as seen when it was under under construction back in 2004. - File
The Chens have shuttered two St Andrew stores in the family-owned grocery chain Super Plus and sent home 89 staff, who had their last days on the job last week Wednesday and Thursday.
The closures happened in New Kingston and Liguanea, both in St Andrew. Chen, however, refused to divulge the buyer.
Signs on the door announced the closure, but also indicated that the non-grocery services offered from that outlet were still in effect.
The same, according to Chen, applied to the New Kingston store, which fronts Trafalgar Road.
"We closed the supermarket part of the operation and the deli at Trafalgar but we still have the peripheral services open there - the pharmacy, the cambio and the western union and lotto, will remain open and we have some offices that will remain open," Chen said.
The New Kingston outlet employed 54 staff, 14 of whom were retained and otherwise transferred within the group.
The store sits on a two-acre property, which, Chen said, is valued at US$5 million (J$445 million).
Of the 75 persons affected at the Liguanea branch, 26 persons were retained and transferred.
"The fact with Liguanea is that we have sold that business and it is likely that the new operator will rehire; that is (what) we hope," Chen said. "We are concerned about what happens when we don't have a job for persons going forward but there is the expectation that many of them will be rehired."
The Super Plus grocery store in Liguanea on April 11 with a closure sign on the door. - Photo by Kelsie Clarke
Super Plus, Jamaica's largest grocery chain had, up to last week, 26 stores in operation. The two closures are among the three outfits that SuperPlus said in March were up for sale. At its peak, the chain had 34 stores, eight of which were locked down between 2006 and 2008 when the group restructured.
There is no captured market data for grocery chains, most of which are family-owned and privately operated, but the Chens continue to claim - even with shelves growing increasingly empty - that Super Plus commands revenue of $11 billion per year.
The two stores shuttered last week contributed seven per cent to group revenues, according to Richard Chen, which would put their turnover at $770 million.
He said the two stores were poor performers with high overheads. In short, a drain on the group.
"The sales had fallen in the branches over last couple of months," he said. "Trafalgar sits on a very expensive piece of real estate, which we do have on the market for sale, and to aid that process we said it was best to close that store."
Chen declined to say which other branch is likely to be closed, saying it would create uncertainty among staff.
"... It is unfair to staff and it creates uncertainty, so we can't do it that way. We look at all options," Chen said.