NORTH AMERICAN RETAILER Cost-U-Less expects to begin operations in Barbados before next Christmas. And it is already promising Barbadian consumers lower food prices with the advent of its warehouse-club type of shopping facility. “All the site work is being done and we are on our way. We are still trying to finalize some of the scheduling, but our goal right now is to be open before Christmas,” said Dan McConnell, vice-president of real estate and store development. He told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY that with the introduction of Cost-U-Less, the local shopping scene was expected to become very competitive. The bulk shopping retailer, which was touted by the late Prime Minister David Thompson as a response to the rising cost of living here, has started building its megastore at Welches, St Thomas, on approximately seven acres of land. McConnell said the facility costing more than BDS$30 million is being built by Niccolls & Edghill Construction Limited, and there was employment for 40 to 70 people “at any given time”. “We are going to bring to the market top quality [and] great value at a reasonable price,” McConnell promised. “I expect the market to sharpen up once we come in. Competition is always good when you come to a market. So I think it is just going to force every retailer to be on their game and make sure the value is there to increase and build the consumer confidence, because everybody is going to be looking for deals, so to speak.” Canadian-based McConnell said Cost-U-Less would be using local produce in its operations. “We will definitely be offering local products. We are just in the [process] of trying to work through some of those details right now. . . . “It is going to be sort of a creative shop. It is going to be everything and more [than] you could imagine. We are going to be sourcing from everywhere. We would like to source as much local as we can as well as from Trinidad, the United States and Canada,” he disclosed. “We tailor to each market in which we operate. So there will be things here that are specific to the taste that people in Barbados like, and that is what we are going to deliver,” he added. Asked why they chose Barbados, McConnell said he believed the Barbados environment was conducive to the warehouse kind of shopping experience and he was confident that after the careful research that was done, business would be good. “I would say we have done due diligence and we are confident that we are going to be able to come in here and do some business. We are really excited about the opportunity. . . . “People like to get good value for money – that is something we are going to bring to the market, and I think the timing is right,” he said. McConnell is “absolutely” comfortable with the location of the store. He said that the area was quickly becoming developed and was “centrally located”. “I think it is an exceptional location and it is going to create a very good shopping experience for everybody,” he commented. He said Cost-U-Less was “looking at” online shopping for Barbados. However, it would not be at the start of operations “but will definitely be a part of our offering at some point”, he reported. Cost-U-Less currently operates in 12 locations worldwide, including Cayman Islands, St Maarten and the United States. It does not require a membership fee.