RadioShack officially opened its doors at the Giftland Mall on Friday, despite filing again for bankruptcy in the United States in March, but its franchise holder assured that Guyana is not affected by that.
Clyde de Haas, Managing Director of Unicomer group, which consists of Courts, Lucky Dollar and Courts Optical, said it was bringing RadioShack, another recognized brand to Guyana to strengthen its portfolio.
In 2015, Regal Forest Holdings (RFH), the parent company for the Unicomer Group, acquired the RadioShack brand and franchising rights for Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
At an opening ceremony, de Haas stated that the US electronics chain, which was established 90 years ago in the US, is a brand that represents quality and durability.
Unfortunately though, due to competition in the US, the company is scaling down business there.
He however, said that operations in the Caribbean, Central and South America are not affected by anything that is happening in the US. He said that Radio Shack is a very strong brand that is needed in Guyana.
In March this year, RadioShack filed for bankruptcy in the US, the second time in two years, and closed about 200 stores and was evaluating options on the remaining 1,300.
De Haas said the Unicomer Group recently opened up three similar RadioShack stores in Trinidad and Barbados and was “very proud to bring the international brand to Guyana because it is helping to change the landscape.”
The store carries a wide assortment of the originally branded technological gadgets, such as sound systems, backpacks, power packs, headphones, cameras, notebook computers, and blue tooth speakers.
RadioShack representatives visited and spent one week training staff and helping to set up the store, which is located in the bottom flat of the mall opposite A. Ally & Sons General Store, where the RCA electronics store was housed.
In an invited comment, de Haas told Stabroek News: “It was a bold decision for the Unicomer Group to acquire the brand in the face of the development in the US.”
He said it has been “proven in Central America and the Caribbean that this concept and the brand is very much alive. In the US, they are changing their business model to go more online because that is where the competition is.”
He pointed out too that Amazon, one of the largest online shopping websites in the world, and Walmart are putting a lot of pressure on retailers including Sears as well as Macy’s.
He said the Unicomer Group strongly believes that indeed “the economy in Guyana is tough, but the world is not easy. There is no easy wall in business but you have to carve out your position and that is what Unicomer is doing.”
The group has been constantly investing in Guyana for the past 25 years, starting with Courts and is expanding.
Three years ago it invested US$6M in a state-of-the-art distribution centre in Eccles. It has the belief in Guyana and has made it through thick and thin.
Whatever happened in the US is not affecting anything that is happening in Guyana, nor in the Caribbean and South America.
Head of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Deodat Indar, in his brief remarks, said “a lot of people are speaking about the doom and gloom for Guyana but I want to draw a nexus of a picture of a salmon swimming upstream and that is going against the tide.”
He said Unicomer was doing just that with the opening, in the face of negative national breakdown in trade and consumer spending. He said the company was investing to send a signal that Guyana is a destination for investment, expansion and in the case of Unicomer, for diversification.
He hopes to see an expansion of the initiative in the rest of the country, which de Haas later said may be happening soon.