“We cannot absorb all price increases”: RTW Managing Director Says

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By Mellica McPherson

Complaints about pricing and the secret to holding on to the largest staff complement outside of government were all addressed by Managing Director of Roadtown Wholesale, Mr. Simon Potter in an interview with The Island Sun newspaper.

During the interview, Mr. Potter’s opinion on the call for price control and the complaints about unfair pricing was solicited. The Managing Director said that his company strives to be fair in its pricing: “From where I sit, I see on a regular basis price increases coming across my desk from suppliers. The truth is I wish we could hold prices, but we continue to get price increases.”

Mr. Potter explained that consumer prices are often affected by manufacturer increases: “We have no avenue, but to pass them on. We can’t absorb them all, we can absorb some; just a small amount, and we do. If it is a small increase we don’t pass it on, but if it is a reasonable increase we have no choice but to pass it on,” he said.

As it relates to the call for Government to institute some form of price control, Mr. Potter said that his company supports such an undertaking. However, he asks that the analysis be fair: “If government wants to do a price consumer agency I have no problem with that. The thing they have to look at is what we are paying, what we are charging, and see that it is reasonable. We do not have a problem with a price consumer agency.”

“I personally don’t see a whole lot that can be done…If we get price increases there is nothing we can do about it. We try to shop around to get better prices …but when there is an increase, it’s the manufacturers; we can’t do anything about that. We may try to get a different product, a different brand at a different price, but we are brand conscious,” the Managing Director stated.

Bargain Brands

In explaining the brand dilemma, Mr. Potter mentioned why some bargain brands are not carried by Roadtown Wholesale. “When we bring a lower brand they stay on the shelf, because our customers are brand conscious and know the better brands.”

“We tried brands of lower names and lower prices, they used to stay on the shelves. In many cases we had to discontinue them because they just don’t sell. Most products are dated, if they don’t sell by a certain date they just get deducted and that increases the cost of operating. We have to respect the customers’ brand consciousness in terms of our purchasing,” he added.

Staff Complement and Firing

Roadtown Wholesale is the largest employer of the private sector in the BVI, and can boast that it continues to retain its large staff regardless of various factors. In explaining the secret, the Managing Director said: “The truth is that during the tourist season we sell a lot more goods than in the off season. We sell a lot more from December to April… n the past we have cut some people’s hours in the slow season, but we have not done it in the last three years. We try not to do it, and we have never really laid off, we try our best not to; and we have reemployed people sometime. With the new store we added a few staff…It’s been tough to try to hold on to our staff, but we try our best to hold on them.”

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