The Foodmaxx Supermarket is set to open tomorrow at the Giftland Mall and Chairman of the Giftland Group Roy Beepat is confident that it will revolutionise grocery shopping in Guyana.
Foodmaxx, which is located on the ground floor of the mall at Plantation Pattensen, Turkeyen, East Coast Demerara, occupies a total floor space of 52,000 sq. ft.
Beepat told Stabroek News yesterday that the supermarket, which is expected to mirror international standards, will operate at 50% of its capacity once opened and will eventually reach its full potential within the next two months.
In terms of staffing, he noted that the supermarket will commence with 100 employees, growing to a full strength of 300, thus bringing the whole Giftland group to about 700 persons.
Further, Foodmaxx will also be opened seven days a week, 363 days a year, except for Good Friday and Christmas Day, in order to cater to the needs of the Guyanese public.
Sharing his thoughts on possibly having to compete with the Massy Group, which is set to open one its largest supermarkets in the Caribbean just a short distance away from the Giftland Mall, Beepat said he sees no competition.
“We have seen Massy. We know what Massy is. Massy is a module which they have in Trinidad and Barbados and St Lucia, all over the place, and in Guyana. But if you look at each Massy, they are all the same; for them to change it takes a whole big board meeting… we are going to revolutionise the way they shop… Where we are going, it’ll take them years to catch up and by time they catch up we are going to be somewhere else again, and that is the trail Giftland leaves inside this country, period,” he stated.
The chairman also boasted about the low prices that will be offered as he noted that not only will the fresh produce be far cheaper than those at other leading supermarkets, but that it will even be cheaper than the fresh market.
“We have been researching this whole year. I have had somebody on the ground working and checking their prices and I can guarantee you there is no one that beats Giftland on prices,” Beepat emphasised.
“When we start to load supermarket product lines this country has never seen before, you can take all the supermarkets and put them all together and they wouldn’t match what we’re doing,” he added.
Commenting on the total investment, he said that while he hasn’t tallied up the figures as yet, it is indeed a “considerable” amount.
Important to note is that the supermarket was initially expected to open its doors back in July. However, according to Beepat, the company had some difficulty financing it.
“We have taken every major bank from inside here and we can’t find any appetite for what we are doing, so it’s very frustrating trying to work with the bankers here. They are risk adverse. They take no risk. To get $10 from the bank, you have to put $15 in; the environment for investment and for entrepreneurs is toxic,” the chairman said.
“There is definitely need for a merchant bank and there is need for the Central Bank regulations to be reviewed to help encourage entrepreneurs, especially in the agricultural sector,” he stated.
Elaborating on the role of the agricultural sector in the supermarket, Beepat said, “This supermarket is different from most supermarkets. Most supermarkets are buy and sell, whereas we are very heavily locally orientated, and that means taking local products and processing them, but it also means working with the farmers and the breeders to create products that we need. When I say that I mean things like Kale and Romaine lettuce, which are things that are not being produced here but can be produced here. We are actually touching the lives of the farmers and creating markets that are different from the traditional ones.”
“I think Guyanese are in for a treat. We are bringing a foreign experience with a local flavour. That’s something that has never been done in the Caribbean and something that is unique,” he further noted.
Foodmaxx will be opened to the general public from 6.30 pm tomorrow after a soft launch at the facility.