In light of the announcement by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley indicating that restaurants are to be closed from today, Global Brands Chairman Mario Sabga-Aboud has indicated that his staff will be paid something to sustain themselves until the end of the month.
In an interview with Guardian Media (GML), Sabga-Aboud said: “So we’re just working out the details for them to be able to give them some kind of stipend until the end of the month because they all will not have jobs.”
He indicated: “We are going to give them something, we just have to work out the details of it.”
Sabga-Aboud indicated that the company would have been giving out the perishable items to all the staff because they would have gone bad if they stayed until the end of the month.
The Global Brands Company which includes all the Rituals, Church’s Chicken, Pizza Boys, Donut Boys and Wok ‘n Roll employs approximately 1500 people, across 10 countries.
Sabga-Aboud noted that 60 to 70 per cent of the business was impacted before and now it would register a 70to 100 per cent drop in the next few weeks.
According to Sabga-Aboud, he has had to close stores in St. Lucia and in St. Kitts, for certain periods.
He assured that the team at Global Brands is praying for the nation.
Meanwhile, owner of Trent Restaurants, Peter George Jr. told GML that he does know if his business can, or any business can sustain another two to three months “of this situation.”
He indicated that the losses per month would be in the neighbourhood of $2million and rent, utility or bank deferrals will still have to be faced afterwards.
George said that he is in support of the government’s decision if it was taken from a physiological stand point, as he understands that as food is transferred from place to place (deliveries) from hand to hand (curb-side pickup) – there is a massive potential for the COVID-19 virus to spread.
George, whose restaurants include Trotters, Buzo, Tommy’s, Amara and Blue Star Diner, also employees close to 500 employees across three islands. However, George indicated that he is unsure it is a good decision if it was made from a crowd control perspective. He remarked: “Just down the road from Trotters, there was a line of no less than 200 people rushing to pay their Digicel and Flow bills so they don’t get cut off, which in itself poses a crowd hazard.”
George continued to note this is a potential economic calamity that facing the country. He said: “We can’t sugar coat that, there is no way it can be sugar coated. We have to be prepared for that, and for the entirely new economic environment that we’re going to be in when this thing is over.”
He posited that everything is going to change and there will not be any magical effects that will take things back to what was once normal. George noted that the government would have to intervene “on a colossal basis.”
According to George: “There’s the HSF (Heritage and Stabilisation Fund), there’s the IMF (International Monetary Fund), there are all kinds of avenues, but if the government thinks that this is something that shall pass, it’s not going to pass, it’s going to take a lot more than rent relief and salary relief and a food card.”
He noted that this is a global economic catastrophe on top of being a medical crisis. Nonetheless, George added: “The economic consequences–and this maybe a controversial comment –will dwarf the medical consequences. That’s just what the reality is.”
The government has done a good job, George said, but it now has to face the reality in front of which it stands.