Freeport retailer ‘cautiously optimistic’ on recovery outlook

Freeport retailer ‘cautiously optimistic’ on recovery outlook
Kelly's Freeport warehouse after Dorian

NASSAU, BAHAMAS- A prominent Freeport retailer said yesterday it was ‘cautiously optimistic’ over the island’s economic recovery, adding that it was trying to do its part to help create a sense of normalcy on the hurricane ravaged island.

Lynn Lowe, managing director of Kellys Freeport Ltd told Eyewitness News Online the company had lost a third of its inventory due to flooding caused by Hurricane Dorian, and had yet to put a figure to the total damages suffered.

Lowe underscored the company did not terminate any of its staff.

“We haven’t let anyone go,” she said.

“We had about 10 people who left us voluntarily. They either left the island or found other employment. We still have 110 people employed. Prior to Dorian we had 120 employees. One gentleman retired and four or five have left the island altogether but it’s not because we terminated their employment.

The company’s building materials section was up and running three weeks post-storm, and has now reopened its retail segment in a temporary setup, she said.

“We have a soft opening for about 10,000 square feet of the retail store,” Lowe said.

Kelly’s Freeport warehouse after Dorian

“It’s a temporary setup for mostly, Christmas items, housewares and the things people need around this time fo the year. We don’t have everything set up permanent because we do not have our supply of shelving to put in so it’s a temporary setup.

“We’ve got brand new flooring. We have a good number of cashiers ready to serve and our staff are excited to be back in a normal situation.”

She continued: “We had up to six feet of water throughout the entire property so everything we had in there we lost. We were able to get everything cleaned-up in the building materials section three weeks after the storm because obviously that is what people want.

“The store has been a lot more challenging for us but we looked at it positively and saw it as an opportunity  for us to renovate and put some new stuff in the store. The major component was putting down all the flooring. We have put down 10,000 square feet of new flooring. We are bringing the floor level up and retiling is the next stage.”

Lowe said the company is expecting a natural ‘boom’ over the next year and a half given the nature of the business.

Kelly’s Freeport warehouse after Dorian

“We will naturally see a boom in business for the next year and a half probably two years depending on how quickly the island recovers,” she said.

“We have had a tremendous response from the NGOs outside of the country putting money on accounts in an effort to help and that is something we have never seen before.”

Lowe said: “We are not looking at the money. We provide a lot of things people need/ and that is why we pushed so hard to come back. People need to fix their roofs, they need bedding and other things to make their lives normal. We want to help do what we can for the Grand Bahama community.

Speaking to the island’s economic outlook post-Dorian, she added: “While we would like to be optimistic we would like to be cautious. There is still a lot that needs to be done.”