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Food For Less in Suva to Close

Food For Less in Suva to Close
The Food For Less supermarket on Rodwell Road, Suva. Photo: Sheldon Chanel
June 06
11:48 2018

Lami Investment is closing its busy Suva supermarket, Food For Less.

It came after the High Court of Fiji ruled the company vacate its premises on Rodwell Road.

The matter was heard in court on March 15 and April 4, 5, 6 and 11, 2018 following a dis­pute between the company and building own­ers Kelton Investments Limited.

The dispute began when Food For Less built mezzanine floors and fixtures without con­sent from the building owners or the Suva City Council, according to court documents.

Managing director Rudra Prasad said he is looking to close the supermarket, which opened for business in 1998, by the end of June once all his stocks are sold.

They have advertised a liquidation sale in the Fiji Sun.

High Court Judge Justice David Alfred on April 20 ruled that Lami Investment quit and deliver vacant possession of the premises on or by May 31, 2018.

The closure will leave some 32 supermarket employees without a job, Mr Prasad said.

“I feel that it is time for me to make a deci­sion and exit. I have been in this industry for the last 32 years and I am happy with my achievements,” he said.

“I’m not young anymore and it’s time that I enjoy my life and spend more time with my grandchildren and family in Australia.”

He also said that there was “fierce” competi­tion in the supermarket industry, adding that “individual operators who do not have volume buying discounts” are finding it hard to sur­vive.

As news of the supermarket’s departure spread, competitors in an industry that has become cut-throat have started to take notice.

Kelton Investments chairman Sir James Ah Koy confirmed the company was in discus­sion with five “prominent” local brands for the property, including a supermarket chain.

“First of all, we are looking at refurbishing the whole place because the place is a wreck and we want to do it up nicely before we settle with a tender,” Mr Ah Koy said.

“We had quite a lot of people put in their sub­mission when we advertised it through your paper and we’re still trying to decide who we are going to give it to.

“It’s a valuable spot; it’s right there after the bus stop and people from the villages around Tailevu and all these places come down and shop there at the bus stop – it’s a real gold mine for whoever opens a supermarket there.”

One potential candidate for the tender is Lokia Shopping Centre Limited, an emerg­ing industry player which already owns two branches in Suva and Nausori called Lokia Foodcity.

The company’s Director and Chief Financial Officer Nazil Buksh said the company saw a lot of potential in the property and would be spending “close to a million dollars to secure the tender.”

“We are just waiting for a word from Kelton Investments regarding that vacant building and whenever the place is ready we will just move in,” Mr Buksh said.

But Mr Ah Koy says no tender has been awarded yet and the company was still hold­ing discussions with potential tenants.

Feedback: sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj

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