SVL restructuring leads to bitterness from retailers whose contracts have been terminatedMonday, March 08, 2021
BY ARTHUR HALL
Several former Supreme Ventures Limited (SVL) retailers are still fuming over the company's decision to terminate their contract after they introduced new lottery entities into their shops.
Chief executive officer (CEO) of SVL subsidiary Prime Sports Ltd, Xesus Johnston, recently told the Jamaica Observer that the decision to terminate the contracts of some retailers was a regular business move which has been under way for some time.
“We are not victimising anyone. We have been doing a channel and business realignment since 2019,” Johnston said, even as he pointed to issues caused by the selling of two competing products in one shop.
“We have got complaints, and seen videos circulating on social media, about channel conflict where people go into a location and they bought a product, thought it was a Supreme Ventures product and when they came to redeem it, they realised they had bought someone else's product.
“That kind of channel conflict we've always thought would be real and now we're seeing it play out in the market. That's an area of concern for us and so we keep having to differentiate our product, promote to the customers and differentiate our brand,” added Johnston.
He further argued that the company's rationalisation reflects the reality of today's world.
“If you think about distribution, traditionally it was only through retailers — brick and mortar. We've now added digital — online, where we now have our games online and you can purchase from SV Games with a debit or credit card. Plus, we've added another innovative sales channel called Super Sellers which is individuals who can walk on the streets with a wireless terminal and sell our gaming products by meeting customers in their neighbourhoods or high-traffic areas,” said Johnson.
But Dwight Richardson, who operated three SVL retail locations over the past 11 years, is convinced that his contract was terminated because he opted to introduce terminals from one of the new players in two of his stores.
“I have taken on one of the new service providers, Mahoe Gaming, and I think that in taking on that new provider I have been disenfranchised by Supreme Ventures. I also believe that I have been prosecuted for being one of the persons who will stand up to Supreme Ventures,” Richardson told the Observer.
“They (SVL) have said it was a business decision for us to take on the new players and a business decision for them. I made a choice and they also made a choice, but I believe that they have acted unjustly in some ways,” added Richardson who admitted that his contract with SVL provided for its termination without cause by either party after a 30-day notice.
He told the Observer that even with the two products being sold simultaneously in two of his stores there was no mix up.
Richardson also argued that the SVL explanation for the termination of his contract makes no sense, especially when it comes to his main store at 54 Half-Way-Tree Road in St Andrew.
“I believe that Supreme Ventures made a public statement that they are adjusting and rationalising their network and I do not see any real attempt in that matter based on some of the decisions that I have seen. My location at the intersection of Half-Way-Tree and Oxford roads is one I can't see which lottery provider would not want a location like that. The nearest possible place for one to have another machine is at least a quarter mile away,” said Richardson.
“So why would SVL give up such a prime location? I don't believe that was a strategic move. I believe that I'm being punished,” declared Richardson as he pointed out that he had no problems with SVL over the 11 years he served as a retailer and had made his payments to the company on or before each due date.
According to Richardson, since the confirmation that new players would be entering the lottery market, he has been vocal during meetings with SVL representatives.
“I have been outspoken and tried to seek justice for retailers in terms of operational exercises. I have been one of the vocal persons who speak to SVL not only on my behalf but for others,” said Richardson.
He said since receiving his termination notice he has not sought a meeting with SVL, but he is concerned about how the company is dealing with cutting ties with its retailers.
“The termination notice stated that I must forward all monies outstanding in a timely manner. I got an e-mail stating what was owed. I got an incorrect invoice which repeated one location three times instead of the three locations. However, I went ahead and paid against what they asked me to pay.
“I did that about eight or so days ago but to date I have not received a letter of release that should be forthcoming to show that I have settled my account,” he said.
“If they gave me a 30-day notice you would expect that this letter, which is a relatively standard one, would be done. So you gave me 30 days and I made the payment, you would expect that four or five days later I would get the letter of release. I find it very hard to understand why I have not received the letter,” Richardson said.
“In a brief discussion with an SVL official about the letter of release he asked that I wait until the process plays itself out. I know for a fact that if I did not pay over their money, as I normally do, it would be a different 'sankey',” argued Richardson.
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