December 23, 2004

Courts St. Vincent still going strong

Courts St. Vincent’s operation will not be affected even though the company’s UK operations are destined for closure.

Managing Director of Courts St. Vincent Enrique R.F. Simarro gave this assurance Wednesday speaking to SEARCHLIGHT and said Courts (UK) Limited has been placed into administration. {{more}}

The bankrupt furniture chain (Courts UK) has agreed to a deal that will see its 88 stores reopened by 16 December. Administrator KPMG said SB Capital, an American firm specialising in turning around retailers, had agreed to take the chain on, but would only purchase 14 shops. The bulk of the shops will then be closed by February next year.

The furniture retailer had been forced to close its doors to the public earlier this month as staff faced threats from disgruntled customers. This, according to Simarro, will not affect the Courts stores that are currently operating in the Caribbean as all the Courts Caribbean stores are doing very well financially and have been, for a while, supporting the operations in the UK.

Courts Barbados had earlier publicly stated that the difficulties facing the British parent company would have no impact on the stores in the Caribbean and that it was business as usual in the region.

Speaking specifically about St.Vincent, Simarro said that the local company has been doing very well based on the fact that 89 per cent of the credit customers are upholding their agreements.

He added that the Courts family in St. Vincent is tightly knit and, “is a successful business well placed to build on its successful development.

“I want to assure all our customers and suppliers that this action does not affect the courts overseas businesses and that we look forward to the future with confidence,” said Simarro.

He added that results for the year in the 11 Caribbean countries that Courts trades in are extremely encouraging with profit before tax up 32.5 per cent, “this is a highly successful business that will continue to prosper in the future.”

Things have been much different in Grenada as during the passage of Hurricane Ivan, much of the Courts product was looted. Simaro, however, said the operation in Grenada was back in business within 14 days after Hurricane Ivan and “ever since has resumed more than satisfactory trading results”.

According to the managing director, Courts currently purchases furniture locally supporting 14 local producers. He said that in his opinion, SVG has some of the best carpenters and upholsters in the world.

Simarro said that Courts began first operating in the Caribbean in Jamaica in 1959. They currently run 350 stores in 20 countries. Stores are locate worldwide in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Mauritius and Madagascar. Simarro has been in SVG for the last two years and with the company for 35. Courts SVG employs 85 persons on a regular basis and about 116 during the Christmas season.