NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Automotive Industrial Distributors (AID) has been forced to delay $8.2 million in planned capital investments due to COVID-19 restrictions, according its president.
Notwithstanding ‘very strong’ sales, Jason Watson told Eyewitness News demolition and construction works planned for April will now be completed in phases.
“Prior to the emergency order being issued AID had capital investments of $8.2 million planned which was supposed to start on April 3rd with the demolition of AID’s Blue Hill Road store and the construction of a 17,000 square foot modern retail facility at that same location,” he said.
“In addition, the rebuilding of AID’s store in Marsh Harbor destroyed by hurricane Dorian is in progress. These construction projects have been delayed by the crisis and will be completed in phases to avoid finding ourselves in a situation where consumers do not have the disposable income to patronize the stores once complete,” said Watson.
“It’s just good to be back in business with revenue coming in,” he continued.
“Despite the restrictions, sales have been very strong. We have had a huge surge in web and WhatsApp orders for customers utilizing curbside service or to skip the lines on days we are open to the public. There is still a lot of pent up demand and with many more businesses opening especially in the construction industry I expect sales to increase over the next few weeks especially for auto parts.”
The company, which provides automotive, household, hardware as well as industrial products and services, is currently open for 51 hours per week, according to Watson.
He said AID opened 81 hours per week prior to the COVID-19 crisis.
“There is still a huge gap but being open allows for sustainable losses. AID stores in Freeport, Exuma and Eleuthera are doing fairly well with sales but we are hoping to resume normal operating hours as soon as possible,” he said.
Noting wider concerns, Watson said he was confident the company would get through the crisis ‘in decent shape” over the short term due to its strong balance sheet.
He added: “I am very concerned about the infection level of COVID-19 in the US. Obviously, without US tourists our economy will be in shambles within months.”