Wednesday, May 27, 2020
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City Market’s lease battle

A legal battle may be on the horizon for City Market, with the company yesterday locked out of its Oakes Field store over a lease dispute, forcing it to reposition that location’s 50 employees throughout its other outlets.

It’s a matter emerging out of what City Market CEO Mark Finlayson termed a”hefty”rent increase at the aging location.

“Locks have been put on the store[because]the old lease has been terminated,”he toldGuardian Businessyesterday.”Tenty-one days rent has not been paid, but we’ve been trying to meet with[our landlord]and he has delayed the meetings for the past two weeks.

“Now he wants us to enter into a new lease agreement… with a very hefty increase. But I am not going to be forced into a new lease. As far as I’m concerned we have a legal battle on our hands.”

Calls to his landlord Neil Mactaggart went unanswered up to press time yesterday. Mactaggart collects for both the Oakes Field and Village Road locations, although the agreement for the eastern store still remains in good standing for the time being.

Monday’s events has led to the roughly 50 employees at the store being relocated into other branches throughout the capital, with Finlayson adding that the company was not at this time prepared to let them go.

While he wouldn’t go into details about what new numbers were being thrown out for the new lease, Finlayson said the old rental agreement was based on a percentage of sales.

It’s unclear at this point just how long the dispute could continue.

Finlayson said he was more concerned about getting his perishable goods out of the store.

“We need to get into the store to get our stuff,”he added.”We’ve given him his money and by law he has to take the locks off the door.

“Our employees will be in the other stores until this mess is over[and]we’ve assured them. We have good staff. They’ve made an exceptional effort to make things work well[and]I can’t let them down.”

Finlayson, the head of the Trans-Island Traders group-the new majority owners of the 11-store grocery chain-said he is willing to enter into a new agreement, once the landlord is willing to make significant renovations to the structures.

“The ideal thing is to expand the store by 40,000 square feet and bring it to U.S. standards like how they’ve done in Cable Beach,”he asserted.”They went and built a whole new building and in Harbour Bay… even with Sea Grapes…[owner]Troy Darville and I sat down and he is willing to expand the store up to 40,000 square feet.

“Those are the kind of guys you love to work with because they are more than willing.”

The lease dispute comes as the company saw$7 million in shrink by year-end June 30 and is now launching an aggressive$300,000 marketing campaign in a bid to cash out$120 million in sales by the end of the current fiscal period.

The campaign kicked off over the weekend with$1000 cash giveaways daily at all 11 stores throughout The Bahamas. Oakes Field will likely now have to be taken out of that equation.

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