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New City Market chief seeks to revive company

It’s only been about a month since Trans Island Traders Ltd. bought the City Market chain of food stores, but company CEO Mark Finlayson has said the downward financial spiral endured by the chain has ended.

Shrinkage(loss by theft and spoiled goods), major refrigeration problems and issues with creditors brought City Market to near closure a month ago, said Finlayson as he monitored the restocking of shelves at their Cable Beach store yesterday.

Finlayson explained that things were so bad that prior to November 12, customer traffic had dipped to less than half of what it was the same time in 2009.

“It was down to 49 percent. Two weeks ago it was at 51 percent. I just recently looked at the numbers and it was 58 percent,”he said.”So we are at 58 percent of where we were last year and we’re growing.”

Key changes at the company include: Cleaning the stores, attempting to bring shrinkage under control and restocking store shelves.

Empty shelves were becoming the norm at the chain before the new owners took over. However, after working things out with local wholesalers, the situation is changing.

“You’ll find that all the Coca-Cola products are back in the store,”Finlayson said.”You’ll find that Purity Bakery bread is back in the store. The first thing that was back in the store was produce. In fact, I challenge any of the stores on produce. We have the freshest.”

City Market Marketing Manager Nikki Simmons said bringing the products back in to the company’s stores is a priority.

“We’ve heard the cry of the customers. We haven’t had a lot of things for them for a while, and now they’re here,”she said.”Our shelves are being restocked. We have the products. We’ve got the best produce. We have the dairy products coming in. Everything is coming in to our stores again.”

Finlayson said the company was”very close to the edge.”

“People have(said)the Finlaysons came in and saved the company. That’s partially true,”he said.”(But)the customer coming back is what’s going to save this company. We have a small part in it. But when you get down to it, it comes to the customer coming back.”

Finlayson said he hopes a new promotion will drive sales and bring customers in to see the changes at the company’s 11 grocery stores.

Beginning today, on a daily basis at each City Market store, the company will give away$1,000 to one customer who spends at least$50.

The amount will jump to$2,000 by the time the giveaway ends on December 24.

“We want to show our appreciation and give back to the people,”said Simmons.

The company will give away$250,000 in total, according to Finlayson.

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