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City Markets in multi-million-dollar Plaza talks

City Market’s new majority shareholder is currently in discussions with two western landowners on a multi-million-dollar standalone shopping center to house the new location of the much talked about Lyford Cay store.

That grocery store is set to close sometime within the next two years, once the landlords of the current plaza-who have ties with AML-finish construction on a new modern shopping facility in the area.

Mark Finlayson, the new City Market CEO, toldGuardian Businessthe decision came about after the company was unable to secure a spot in the new plaza being built by its present landlords.

“The former owners didn’t bid properly, but we don’t lay down and play dead,”said Finlayson, head of Trans-Island Traders.”We’re talking with two landowners out in that area on building our own shopping center.

“We would build a standalone location together with[Associated Bahamian Distillers and Brewers Limited]and other individual companies.”

It’s news following months of speculation that the Lyford Cay location was set to close, with the store in the process of being forced out of the location. Finlayson makes it clear that there was no force involved in the move at all and that all parties are in agreement with the move.

Guardian Businessunderstands the landlords are also involved with the construction of a new fresh market type development in the same area as the new City Market center. The market is expected to be well received, acting as the first-of-its-kind healthy food store option in the country.

Asked about how that will affect City Market’s plans, Finlayson said he was not worried at all.

“The advantage we have is we will be able to see what they have first,”Finlayson said.”And I can tell you that our center will be state-of-the-art.”

The company is also looking to open its twelfth location in the country in Grand Bahama by summer 2011. A location has already been identified, with ABDAB’s old Butler and Sands location to house the store on that island.

This follows an especially troubling time for the company in that market, with inventory issues manifesting on the shelves in Freeport way before the problems became evident in the capital.

The intended projects both in Nassau and on Grand Bahama have kicked the original investment in the company up by about$10 million, Finlayson explained toGuardian Business, with the company now eyeing anywhere from$30 million to$35 million in spending to build it back up.

Trans-Island Traders completed the purchase of a 78 percent majority shareholding in the company from Trinidad’s Neal and Massy for just about$1 million, with an agreement to assume liabilities amounting near$10 million.

City Market currently has eight locations in Nassau and three in Grand Bahama.

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