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No job losses Chastanet assures as CFL goes into foreign control

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Sir Arthur Lewis Community College students and University of the West Indies representatives observing produce at Super J IGA Gablewoods/Sunny Acres Supermarket in February 2013. Neal & Massy is now the sole shareholder of Gablewoods Supermarket and by extension, majority shareholder of Consolidated Foods Limited.

Veteran St. Lucian businessman Michael Chastanet has assured that there will be no job losses as a result of the acquisition of majority shares by regional conglomerate Neal & Massy in Consolidated Foods Limited (CFL), St. Lucia’s largest supermarket and retail chain.

Chastanet, the former chairman of CFL, expressed confidence that CFL employees will remain employed under the new foreign control.

“There will be no job losses at all. At least, the only way job losses can occur is if the economy sinks down and something happens but i don’t see that happening, okay. There will be no job losses at all. I can say that quite emphatically, that there will be no job losses. As a matter of fact, that matter I think was discussed with the prime minister even before, and he was concerned about possible job losses,” Chastanet told DBS television.

Super J IGA Rodney Bay branch.

In a press release announcing the business deal, Chastanet said after 20 years in the supermarket industry, he along with his immediate partners Andre Chastanet and Oswald Augustin, have made a “strategic decision to transition the ownership of Gablewoods Supermarket to the regional conglomerate, the Neal & Massy Group, who has been a shareholder of Gablewoods Supermarket since 2002”.

As of January 1, 2014, Neal & Massy is the sole shareholder of Gablewoods Supermarket and by extension, majority shareholder of Consolidated Foods Limited (CFL), which is the operating entity for CFL’s retail stores, Chastanet said.

Forty percent of CFL remains in local hands while 60 percent will be held by Neal & Massy. Gablewoods Supermarket, JQ Charles and the over 200 staff members are now the sole owners of CFL.

In the DBS interview, Chastanet, who is the father of United Workers Party leader Allen Chastanet, addressed concerns about the foreign ownership.

“… They (Neal& Massy) do have controlling interest but 40 percent is a big shareholding. So, from that aspect there, it’s not a matter of going all into the hands of a Trinidadian per se, you know. They have to work with the partners. The 1500 staff are very meaningful to them. They have to work with those people,” he said.

Chastanet is confident in Neal & Massy, which he describes as “an established regional company” which controls and operates the Hi-Lo chain of supermarkets in Trinidad as well as the Super Centre Supermarkets in Barbados.

“We have no doubt that Neal & Massy will provide their proven expertise to a company like CFL, which has become a household name and more importantly, a company built on local input, since its inception. As a locally grown entity, we recognize the need to now compete on a global scale and remain competitive and viable.

“We have faith that with the leadership and proven track record of Neal & Massy, in the retail business, the supermarkets will attain world class standards and service while creating even more value and opportunities for all of its stakeholders including our employees.”

He added: “After 60 years as a Saint Lucian businessman, I am confident that under this new ownership, our valued operations will continue to enjoy the success and stability which has benefited all employees, local shareholders, suppliers and stakeholders. To the entire staff of CFL and all St. Lucians who have devoutly supported the company, we wish to say thanks in many ways and above all on behalf of the CFL staff and its directors past and present, we extend best wishes, health, happiness, and prosperity to all St. Lucians for 2014 and beyond.”

Michael Chastanet

Regarding the reason behind his decision to sell his shares, Chastanet told DBS: “Because of where I am at this time of my life, I felt that CFLl needed another great push, like it got 20 years ago, to take it to another level. And it was those factors which I considered, which i wouldn’t say made me, but persuaded me to move in that direction. No decision is ever perfect in life but in my humble opinion I feel that what Neal & Massy can bring to the table today would be very good.”

Chastanet could not say whether the new owners will change the name of CFL. He said the prices may remain the same.

CFL owns Super J IGA stores in St. Lucia and St. Vincent & the Grenadines. Mega J in Choc, St. Lucia is also owned by CFL as well as Save-A-Lot in St. Vincent.

For information about Neal & Massy, visit http://www.neal-and-massy.com/Home/ and for more information about CFL visit http://www.superjsupermarkets.com/cfl/index.php

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7 comments

  1. This reeks as a Political move! Either he is gearing up for his long awaited political debut or he has some power plays up his sleeve behind-the-scenes. Either way, St Lucians keep a watchful eye on these developments.

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  2. Saint Lucians need to invest more in our people.
    Build up our own businesses and think about expanding in the regional market.

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  3. Why blame Mr Chastanet, he is performing the role of a business man and its just business and profits and survival. What more St. Lucians should have done was to encourage the employees buy more shares/stock if they are available or we can invest on the Barbados stock exchange and buy more shares in Neal and Massy. I too believe there is a hidden agenda... but it's profit and more money. What we need to do is grow our own and support the other local chains such as Dillies or Glace or other small shops.

    I believe we should expect job losses, end of the foward and backward linkages that existed and managerial positions taken up by trinidadians. But then again "all ah we is one family" with Caricom.

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  4. New managers always come in with a new management team..... and the team has one agenda.....that's is to maximize profits and cut operating costs..........interestingly enough some shifting and restructuring may take place.

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  5. It is my humble opinion that Mr. Chastanet would not have allowed Neal & Massy to possess majority shares if he did not have faith in their ability to provide a great servive to St. Lucians.
    I think that he is at a point in his life
    Where he wants to settle down. For now we should just have faith in the economy and that should keep prices at a reasonable range for St. Lucians.
    Knowing Mr. Chastanet, I am certain that he gave this alot of thought and did his research to ensure that the consumers and employees needs at CFL would be catered for.

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    • Your memory is short apparently. When Chastanet bought over from Julien's of Barbados, the first thing he did was rise prices on lucians. Now he comes with this hogwash of not raising prices. Neal and Massy don't owe St. Lucia nothing. They will do as they please considering they have a monopoly.

      THis BS about Chastanet wanting to settle down is nonsense. If he cared so much for St. Lucia maybe he should donate his millions to fund schools etc. Or raise salaries of low level staff. He is just a greedy bastard. he is on his way out. All his millions won't save him.

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      • Now why do I agree with you? Somehow this does not sit well with me. These people always have a hidden agenda. The representative who came down has already said that some departments are overstaffed. One by one you will see any staff being sent home but where there is smoke there is fire. I don't wish for that but it is only a matter of time. Hogwash is right my dear john 3:16.

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