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Rapid True Value forms valuable 'union' - Customers to benefit from Western Union-Bill Express partnership

Published:Tuesday | January 5, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer

Rapid True Value store.

THERE IS a new section in four Rapid True Value outlets across Jamaica which are expanding on the nuts and bolts (plus just about anything required for home maintenance and improvement) of the business they are renown for. It is an inward expansion of sorts, as there is further utilisation of existing floor space, but also outward, in terms of what the organisation offers to its clients.

Western Union and Bill Express have their own self-contained set-ups (literally a store within a store) at Rapid True Value in Lane Plaza, St Andrew, Fairview in Bogue, St James, Ocho Rios in St Ann, and Mandeville in Manchester, with FX Trader services slated to be added next month.

One-stop shop

Rapid True Value is a Hardware and Lumber (H&L) brand and Ryan Foster, head of business development and special projects at H&L, says customers will benefit from a one-stop shop-in-shop convenience, aesthetics, parking and service.

He points out that security is very important and emphasises that "we are not just a 'throw-down' kind of remittance agent. We give you a world-class ambience, service with a touch".

It is a match made in GraceKennedy heaven, as both entities are part of the group; but it is also a mating which is expected to make existing customers happier - and galvanise potential customers.

Foster says it is expected that the move will capture a piece of the cambio business in the area around the four Rapid True Value stores, in addition to existing customers using the new facilities. And Dave Myrie, H&L deputy CEO and chief operating officer, points out that they also hope to convert persons who are browsing in Rapid True Value to actual customers.

"There is also the issue of value added," Myrie said. "We are helping you by providing everything in one place, in very safe, pleasant surroundings."

The Western Union and Bill Express facilities have their own staff, security guards and camera systems. "We are a GraceKennedy company and GraceKennedy stands for a certain level of quality. We have to ensure that everything we provide is of that standard," Myrie said.

"The thing which separates us is the convenience," Foster said.

There are other impending customer benefits as well, such as discounts on Rapid True Value products, with use of the new services.

And, naturally, there are impending foreign-exchange commission benefits for the company as well. Andrew Kerr, H&L chief financial officer, tells The Gleaner that "sixty per cent of our goods are imported. So that tells you how important it is". It is not expected that there will be significant inflows in the first year of the union, but Kerr says "going forward, that is where we have to focus".

Rise in remittances expected

This is a scenario where a rise in remittances is expected as the global economic situation makes an upswing. In addition, Myrie points out, "Many times, remittances coming back to Jamaica are for building purposes."

Foster emphasises that the service expansion "does not affect our core business in any way or form", Myrie adding that "we have no intention of relinquishing our core business".

It is, of course, way too early to gauge the impact of the additional services on customer flow (Rapid True Value turns in well over 100,000 transactions monthly).

Rapid True Value will officially open its Western Union and Bill Express service this month.