It takes more than money to run a retail operation. It takes business smarts.
A retailer, who originally had more money than business smarts has been forced to layoff dozens of workers and close 12 locations throughout The Bahamas.
Andrew Wilson took over the ownership of John S George shortly after his brother George was released on a technicality in the United States, where he had been convicted of stealing over $50 million from unsuspecting American investors.
Along with John S George, Wilson operated stores such as Quality Business Centre (QBC) and Radio Shack.
Business observers said at the time that Mr Wilson was ill prepared to run the operation. He had little experience and even less business smarts, they said.
Mr Wilson suffered the same fate as many Bahamians who achieved their wealth through hook and crook, especially during the drug-fueled 80’s. These people never really learned how to run a legitimate business. Only because they were flush with cash did they survive during good times. When faced with the difficult business environment brought on by the global recession they failed.
Many of these “business people” learned the hard way that it takes more than money to operate a successful business. One needs business experience and a keen knowledge of inventory, employee training and customer service.
Although there is no evidence that Mr Wilson received any proceeds of his brother’s crimes, it is apparent that he had little business acumen.
Wilson who, for some odd reason, was speaking at the “2010 Visionary Business Leaders Entrpreneurs and Awards Conference” blames his lack of success on the economic downturn.
However, business experts say his lack of experience in building a business from the ground up was the real cause of his problems.
Mr Wilson admitted that he had to reduce his staff from around 170 to 66, and consolidate his group’s locations from 20 to eight in just over two years.
One of the biggest mistakes he made was having little respect for his employees. He cut out the pension and healthcare provisions that employees of John S George had received when he took over the company. This resulted in him losing his best employees and angering many others, resulting is dismal customer service at his stores.
Also, his lack of knowledge regarding inventory contributed to his losses.
The John S George store on Cable Beach was a good example of business foolishness. Wilson spent good money renovating the store to accommodate a huge paint center despite the fact that two major players in the paint business were opening stores in the Cable Beach area at the same time. Wilson was forced to shut his paint operation and currently maintains a pathetic inventory of hardware and housewares.
Given his failure in business it was ironic that Mr Wilson was giving advice to conference participants on doing business in the recession. It is another case of the blind leading the blind.