Concessioners call for simplified process in transition to the airport

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Two concessioners, who recently opened stores at the VC Bird International Airport, would like to see the process made easier for locals to do business there.
The TAILORS DAUGHTER, Flo’s Perfume+ and Big Banana Holding Company Limited recently expanded their operations to the country’s lone international airport.
While they are pleased to see the efforts of months of bidding, representatives of the two businesses lamented that the process was very difficult.
“I do believe the Antigua & Barbuda Airport Authority (ABBA) needs to come to the table, hold the hands of people, and make it very clear as to a realistic timeline in processing
and approval,” said Michelle George Managing Director of The TAILORS DAUGHTER.
George said she had to bid on the space she now occupies in 2014 and eventually acquired it in 2017.
She also said that she felt some of the requirements she went through were not necessary and there was also a duplication of efforts on the part of the authority.
“They wanted me to have a certified architect and a certified electrician and I was like, why? I am going to a place that is already being built so why do I need an architect? What they really wanted was a certified interior designer. At that point … I said I was not doing nothing else,” George said.
Managing Director of Flo’s Perfume+, Flora Cabral also described her move to the new terminal as a battle.
“If I knew that the process was going to be so tedious I probably would not have gone through it, but I must say I am extremely grateful for the assistance I received from Geneva George at the airport authority. She is the one that took me through it step by step,” Cabral said.
Now, that the dust has settled, both entrepreneurs are thankful they have followed through with the process. However, they are appealing to the airport authority “to do more to accommodate the local man”.
Commercial and Retail Manager at the ABAA, Geneva George said the authority works overtime to cater to the needs of local businesses.
She said the body has worked with local entrepreneurs to ensure they had a full understanding of the process.
“We recognised that it is important to have locals here and in so doing,
we reached out and tried our best to work on that process to get them into the airport. We want to have a mixture of local and international businesses,” George said.
Prior to the opening of the new airport in 2014, several indigenous businesses, which were operating in the old terminal, closed their doors as they were unable to meet the new terms.

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