By James Wells in Fiji

FIJI: Betta Stores Limited (BSL) has provided members with clarification over the next stages of the group’s BSL-W or Wholesale concept and the large footprint Superstore strategy.

BSL CEO, Guy Houghton, told members that the BSL-W concept, launched as BSL-D at last years conference in Monaco, will remain within the group despite receiving a mixed response from retailers.

“BSL-W had a beat-up over the last 12 months. The misunderstanding with BSL-W has been driven by the fact that within BSL, we have tried to fix the world with BSL-W,” Houghton said.

Providing the BSL member with the opportunity for the buying group to own all of the stock within the store, BSL-W was designed to solve a lot of the compliance and franchise licensing issues, which have previously existed in other areas of the business.

“BSL-W is the difference between you and us funding your inventory. We have probably made it too complex and we will talk to you about that,” Houghton said.

“Questions have been asked about how we are going to fund it. We will go to the market for more capital and go to the shareholders for more capital,” he said.

“The industry knows about BSL-W and the number of prospective franchisees coming forward gives me and the board a lot of confidence. New franchisees are looking to get into this industry – if they do not have to fund the $1 million or $2 million of stock in their stores – it will make BSL more attractive.”

The other main point of clarification was the Superstore concept, launched at the group’s conference in South Africa in 2004.

“The Superstores are up and running and yes, we have learned a lot from the process,” Houghton said.

BSL claims its Superstore concept is working, with this format recording the highest growth within the group. To encourage more growth of this nature, BSL is reviewing the license agreement for Superstores to provide a larger number of stores with qualification for this retail format.

“Superstores are changing – the focus is now on a ‘best in town’ offer. If you are in a smaller town that does not support a full Superstore, we will provide the Superstore concept. We have a fairer fee structure for the Superstore and we have been as bold as requesting 12 new superstores by the end of June 2007,” Houghton said.

“The larger the number, the more value to our suppliers and everyone gets value out of it.”