Business

Fontana Waterloo plugs small, medium entrepreneurs

More than $200 million invested in new branch that will redefine pharmacy standards

BY ABBION ROBINSON
Observer staff reporter
robinsona@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

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Fontana Pharmacy's new Waterloo mega — store is offering a number of small and medium-sized Jamaican businesses an opportunity to improve sales through shelf placement in the store that Chief Executive Officer Anne Chang says will bring together “Caribbean hospitality and flair”.

“We're really big on helping Jamaican entrepreneurs. We want to give them more exposure and turn [their ventures] into bigger businesses,” she told the Jamaica Observer on Monday at a soft launch of the store at the intersection of Waterloo and West King's House roads in St Andrew.

According to Chang, the $200-million-plus investment will have a department dedicated to 15 artisans and small businesses with locally produced items and products.

Anna Smith, whose company Bee Sweet Honey is making its début on Fontana's shelves, is excited about the opportunity.

“I cannot express adequately how fabulous of an idea it is. I know [the Fontana] team have [not only] always expressed an interest, but have also demonstrated support for local artisans and businesses,” Smith told the Business Observer on Monday, as guests at the launch admired her products neatly displayed in attractive wicker-wrapped glass bottles.

“The fact that the store has an area specifically dedicated to Jamaican items and artisans is really a demonstration of putting your money where your mouth is,” she continued.

Chang added that the location will also launch a pop-up shop section, in January, for entrepreneurs who would like to rent the space to reach a wider audience and tap into Fontana's customer base.

“This [space] is going to be an ongoing pop-up shop and [Fontana] would also help them with social media [marketing]. The idea is that [entrepreneurs] could test the market for [themselves], without an investment in a store, to see how viable it is. Customers would also always have something to look forward to,” she said.

Fontana's sixth branch, which has just over 100 employees and spreads across 35,000 square feet, is expected to redefine the standard of quality and service set by the pharmacy chain, as it continues to grow its footprint across Jamaica.

The branch also has three tenants — Candy Craze, Imperial Optical and TechnoKrat.

The two-storey location is touted as a cutting-edge expansion of the brand's existing model. In addition to the artisan centre and planned pop-up area, it includes a state-of-the-art pharmacy, one-stop beauty hub, extensive baby and children's selections, home décor collection, cookware department, and business centre.

Chang added that these features will ultimately be incorporated at Fontana's other branches islandwide.

Just before entering the pharmacy patrons are greeted by the newest Starbucks Coffee store in the capital city, while a National Commercial Bank (NCB) automated teller machine (ATM) is also located on the outside.

Chang also assured that the new branch will not draw customers away from its Barbican branch, but rather serve as an adjustment to Barbican's limited parking and target new markets.

The new branch will be open today at 8:00 am to the general public.


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