Whitchurch IGA has re-opened its supermarket to the general public, ten months after Hurricane Maria and looters devastated its business.
The supermarket, located on Old Street in Roseau, reopened at 5:05PM on Thursday 19 July 2018. Its operating hours will be 8AM to 7PM Monday to Thursdays, 8AM to 8PM on Fridays, 7:30AM to 8PM on Saturdays and 8:30AM to 3PM on Sundays.
“The rebuilding process was both strenuous physically and it was very costly,” marketing manager, Michelle Joseph told members of the media during a media tour on Friday 20 July.
“But these things are necessary to produce a quality product which we are proud that many customers are actually recognizing,” Joseph added.
The opening was done without any prior publicity and according to Joseph, “we didn’t want to open sub-par; we wanted to open when we were fully ready to serve the public in the best manner”.
She informed that the rebuilding is a multi-million dollars investment to include the clean-up, demolition to some extent, re-flooring, sourcing new equipment and restocking.
A number of changes have been made in respect to the outlay of the supermarket and some dispensers have been added for items like peas, beans and rice.
The company, which had been in operation for forty-three years, was forced to lay off “all of its supermarket staff” due to the devastation of Hurricane Maria.
“Some stayed on within the following weeks of the storm to help clean up which we greatly appreciate that level of dedication that IGA and Whitchurch staff on as whole has,” Joseph said.
As of now, however, “sixty percent of the individuals who were laid off have been called back in”, she informed, while some decided to retire and “unfortunately some redundancies had to be made in terms of reorganizing the employment structure”.
Additionally, the company is in the hiring process and although the numbers “may not be too large, but we are still committing ourselves to creating employment which we know now is very difficult”.
Joseph also expressed gratitude to the general public for its patience during this rebuilding process, as well as well-wishes and congratulatory messages.
“We know you have options to shop but, we heard the comments; Dominicans held back on their shopping because they knew that Whitchurch was going to open and we are very happy … and we simply want to say thank you, and we hope that you all will appreciate the hard work that was put into developing a product that is superb,” Joseph stated.
She is looking forward to creating different promotions and activities which will engage the public more.