Barbados’ doors are open to “clean, progressive and innovative businesses”.
This was Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley’s clear message on Thursday night as she delivered remarks at the official opening of Kooyman Megastore at Kendal Hill, Christ Church. And, she said Kooyman’s investment reflected “absolute confidence” in the future of this country.
Ms. Mottley called on Barbadians to create products which could be sold at the Barbados store, but also exported to its other locations in Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao and St. Martin.
“I want to issue a challenge … to Barbadian manufacturers, business people and artists, that on these shelves in Kooyman should be products that reflect the innovation, creativity and craftsmanship which we know exist within this country and for which the opportunities for distribution, promotion, marketing and export may not have been as readily available in the past,” she stated.
The Prime Minister noted that coral and clay could be used to create some of the finest pieces.
“We have people who do coral bases for dining and coffee tables; clay pots and other things out of clay. Let us remember that one-seventh of our land area is clay, in the Scotland District. We have people who make and produce all other kinds of things and we have artists who can also do things that are novel. I see artists have reproduced their paintings on cushion covers for interior design work,” she pointed out.
Alluding to an earlier point made by a speaker, that the store had not received any government concessions, Ms. Mottley said the owners’ confidence was not buttressed by any concessions. Rather, she continued, they understood that this market would give them an opportunity to be innovative.
“We see the innovation in the location where we are standing, which will provide the first drive thru for small and large contractors, such that you don’t have to get out [of your vehicles], but you can place your orders and have the materials loaded and drive back through one time,” she explained.
The Prime Minister saluted all involved in the work, including public officers working in the regulatory agencies. She stressed that those officers worked seamlessly with those responsible for the construction, to ensure the building was completed on time.
Describing the US$40 million megastore as the biggest investment in its history, CEO of Kooyman Holdings International, Herbert van der Woude, said there were a number of factors which motivated the expansion of the chain.
“In our four existing markets all together, we have about 320,000 inhabitants, so Barbados with its 290,000 inhabitants is for us a huge market …. Barbados has solid institutions, including an independent judicial system, a well-educated population, fair trade regulation and a high ranking on the transparency international ranking,” Mr. van der Woude stated. He added that of the 120 employees, 118 were locals.
President of the Board, Bastiaan Kooyman, announced that during their official opening on Saturday, February 22, two charities would receive a donation.
“The Barbados Vagrant and Homeless Society will receive BDS$25,000 to buy products to upgrade their shelter, and last, but certainly not least, Slow Food Barbados will receive a contribution of BDS$35,000 to start an educational school garden at Milton Lynch Primary school,” Mr. Kooyman disclosed.
Kooyman Megastore Barbados was built in 49 weeks, from the turning of the soil to last night’s official opening.