2 - 8 May, 2001

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Poor management leads to MA Supermarkets shut down

In the latest bout of calamity to hit the supermarket sector, the supermarket known as Savemart in San Gwann was closed down last week. The store, leased by Savemart Co Ltd to MA Supermarkets Ltd, according to sources, underwent a particularly rough patch under the current management and had its doors closed for business.

Speaking to The Business Times, Savemart Co Ltd’s David Inglott emphasises that MA Supermarkets, under the guidance of Michael Debono and his sons, had mismanaged their affairs and that he had not been informed that the tenants had been in the midst of such financial difficulties.

The closure follows the highly publicised shut down of Supermaster in Mriehel, which had led employees to stage a sit-in protest.

Meanwhile, despite the fact that recent media reports have claimed that the Price Club supermarket chain, Malta’s largest, is also in serious financial difficulty, sources high up in the chain’s management yesterday refuted speculation that it might shut down certain outlets.

Sources told The Business Times, "With a turnover of around Lm24 million, an approximate Lm4 million debt looks awesome to some. But it isn’t when one views the capacity of the business," adding that more than 80 per cent of Malta’s business community face similar problems.

Sources add that the chain, with an annual turnover in the vicinity of Lm24 million is here to stay and that the recent closure of Supermaster had added fuel to the fire of speculation surrounding the chain of late.

Speculation had surfaced Friday evening when news emerged that an urgent creditor’s meeting had taken place and that the chain was to offer creditors equity shares in a potential Malta Stock Exchange equity listing in return for debt cancellation.

The Price Club chain is in the process of carrying out a restructuring programme with the assistance of PricewaterhouseCoopers, which will help the company to analyse its actual position and take action from there.

With some 600 people directly employed with the Price Club Chain and several hundred more indirectly, if the company had to go under, the implications would be felt all around.

However, when questioned on the matter, Price Club director Victor Zammit rebutted such claims by explaining, "The Price Club is not in difficulty. It is true that a creditors’ meeting was held Friday night and everything is now back to normal.

"They [the creditors] wanted to ensure that monies owed are secure."

However, Mr Zammit refused to comment on whether creditors had been offered equity shares in an eventual Price Club stock market listing.

Meanwhile, reports that the company is failing to pay its creditors in order to free funds for the opening of new outlets were denied, explaining that the Naxxar and Attard Price Clubs purchases had been agreed upon over a year ago.

The chain was recently extended through the opening of two more stores – one in Attard and another in Naxxar following the purchasing of the localities from Happy Savers Supermarkets in deals that involved considerable sums of money.

Meanwhile, seven sites in Tripoli have been allocated to the chain, which is expected to open eight new stores in Libya, seven in the capital city and another in Benghazi.

The Price Club Supermarket chain is also expected to further expand its business in Malta with a Lm3.5 million investment earmarked for Save-On supermarket in Marsa.

Work on the project was scheduled to begin by the end of last year but Planning Authority permits are reportedly yet to materialise.

The new store is set to be the company’s largest retail outlet yet, on a bigger scale than the Swatar premises which is believed to be the biggest and busiest supermarket on the Islands.

Editors note: Last week the news report of MA supermarkets better known as Savemart was not continued. We apologize to our readers

 



The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt