Jacques Scott denied license

Can’t open shop in West Bay

A new $3 million office and retail
complex next to Foster’s Supermarket Republix in West Bay is in doubt after the
liquor licensing board denied anchor tenant Jacques Scott a retail license.

The Liquor Licensing Board of Grand
Cayman turned down an application by licensee Peter Dutton, who wanted to
change the location of a liquor license from the Little Liquor Store on North
Church Street.

The decision came after a lengthy
special meeting of the licensing board on Thursday at which objections were
heard from local businesses that were concerned that another store would put
them in financial difficulty in taxing times. Other issues raised were those of
crime levels in the vicinity.

The four objectors were Ena Welds
of Joe Ena’s Liquor Store, Judy Deslandes from JD’s Liquor Store and Clint
Ebanks from Pop-A Top Liquor Store.

Another objection was heard from
Garett Haylock, speaking on behalf of the West Bay Residents Committee who were
concerned about the morality of making additional alcohol available in the area.
Mr Haylock noted that many residents had signed a petition against the planned
new store.

New complex

Peter Dutton spoke to the board of
the variation of his package license in George Town to an as yet unbuilt site
next to Foster’s Food Fair Republix in West Bay.

He said that Jacques Scott &
Company had an agreement to purchase the land and a deposit had been paid
accordingly but construction would not go ahead unless the change of location
for the liquor license was granted in principle by the board.

Subject to this and the building
conforming to other standards, he said, the earliest that a new, 3,000-square-foot
store could open would be the end of 2011.

“The concept of the store is that
it would be a high-end, primarily fine wine store similar to the store that we
have at Countryside in Savannah, which is targeted at tourists and upmarket
residents of the area.

“We believe it will be of service
to the customers of the area and we believe that it will be convenient due to
its proximity to the supermarket and we believe it will meet the criteria under
Section 9 of the licensing law,” he said.

Employment

Mr. Dutton said that the company
was aware of objections to the store, which was why they took out an
advertisement in the local press to highlight their plans. He said they believed
it would be a statement of confidence in the West Bay district and would bring
business and employment to the district.

As Jacques Scott would be the
anchor tenant for the complex, it was vital that the license was granted in
order to ensure the viability of the building, which is also mooted to hold
office and retail space.

The company had already been approached
by a bank, he said, but at this stage he could not reveal which one or any
other potential tenants in the $3 million development.

He said that he was conscious that
some of the existing West Bay stores bought their stock wholesale from Jacques
Scott, but it was not their intention to hurt business by undercutting prices.

Mr. Dutton said that the planned
new store would have much higher operating costs and it would not be in their
interests to slash prices. The store would offer a different range of products
that would not be available elsewhere in West Bay, he said.

He said the liquor store would
mirror the policy of their Countryside branch by not selling liquor in bottles
of less than 20cl. Single units of beer would not be available either, with a
six pack the smallest possible purchase in order to deter what he described as
‘undesirable traffic’.

Noting that there were several
high-end condos and properties nearby, Mr Dutton said that it would be good
from a tourism perspective as it would retain traffic that would otherwise go
to other parts of the island to purchase their alcohol.

He said that from research the District
of West Bay had the highest proportion of population per license at present and
would still be the least well-served should the license be approved.

He said that he was aware of the
crime and security issues but as a licensee he was aware of his
responsibilities. He noted that people had been concerned that there would be
problems with their Savannah store but there had been no issues with security.

Objections

Acting on behalf of Joe Ena’s
Liquor Store, Mr Patrick Schmid of Bodden & Bodden put forward several
objections to the license.

He said that contrary to Jacques
Scott’s advertisements’ statement that there was no purveyor of fine wines in
West Bay, his client fulfilled that role and in fact obtained such goods
wholesale from Jacques Scott.

Mr. Schmid added that the
demographic and experience of selling to the West Bay public was different.
Notably, an increase in crime in the area was something that would not be
helped by the addition of another liquor supplier.

The fact that the proposed site was
empty was irrelevant, he said, and was far from Heritage Square – the
traditional centre of West Bay.

“The argument that it enhances the
aesthetic perspective of West Bay is somewhat dubious,” he said.

He said that Jacques Scott had the
ability to undercut the existing, family-owned West Bay liquor stores and
therefore put them out of business. He said that competition of this sort could
be detrimental as there were already a sufficient number of suppliers in the
area.

Family-owned

Mr. Schmid added that in the case
of his client, four generations had been in business and there was no public
interest in putting them in a position where they would be put out of business.

“The supply available at the small,
family owned stores in West Bay in terms of the variety and quality is usually
dependent on that which a company such as Jacques Scott has as they are
wholesale providers.

“Accordingly, if [they] are unable
to provide something then clearly those who sell the products that they
purchase from Jacques Scott, with a small mark-up to provide profit, are also
unable to provide that particular fine wine or liquor.

“The West Bay businesses as they
currently exist know their customers intimately in most cases, and they are
often able to render assistance whether in the form of advice or otherwise in a
way that a chain store operation such as this would be, with random staffing
who are not necessarily from the district, would not be able to provide,” he
said.

Mr. Schmid said the liquor stores are
run by family members, are 100 per cent Caymanian staffed and owned whereas
Jacques Scott had told them that they were 80 per cent Caymanian-staffed.

He also pointed out that the site
was in proximity to the John Gray Memorial Church and the youth leader’s home,
a place where young people went for advice and guidance.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. This denial is so wrong on so many levels. If this business wants to open a shopping facility in West Bay then they should be afforded every opportunity. The fact that there will be a liquor store in the complex has nothing to do with anything. The proximity to churches should not matter because the shop will not be open on Sunday so all the church goers would have bought their weekend supplies on saturday. Also the fact that the other businesses purchase wholesale products from Jacques Scott should not matter either. Are you telling me that someone should not open a Burger King restaurant since there is a Wendy’s near by? Are you also telling me that the fact that this new business will be 80 Caymanian employees makes a difference over 100% family owned establishments??? What load of crap.

    I also do not believe that the same products offered by this new store would ever be available in the other family business.

    I just dont see what is wrong with this establishment being built and offering more jobs in the community. I did read what Mr. Schhnid had to say, and all I could think of when reading it was how much of an educated idiot he sounded. Surely he has more sense than that.

    As far as I recall the other West bay liquor stores are not in close proximity and yet the district does need a location for tourists to purchase high end items. I am sure that JOe – Ena’s sells wine, but I dont believe that many tourists are looking for Boone’s Farm.

    I think that the Liquor Licensing Board is being prejudicial here and that there is some alterior motive behind not granting this license.

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  2. Obviously, these protesters did not drive out to see the Jacques Scott store in the Countryside Mall. It’s stunningly beautiful — very classy & upscale. It also sells high-end kitchen products. It would be an asset to the West End. No-one is forcing customers to go there — maybe these other “family businesses” should offer their liquor slightly cheaper since they certainly wouldn’t have spent the money in decor — if they want to retain their customers. However, customers have the right to shop where they want. Competition is healthy. It is this same narrow-minded government thinking that stopped a port for cruise ships from being built years ago — now ALL the merchants in the harbour suffer because a lot of the ships now by-pass Cayman — all because they didn’t want to put the “local” guy with the tenders out of business. Be realistic!

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  3. The Liquor LIcensing Board has been around a long time. It is naturally a controversial Board. It has had a lot of guidance on what it can and cannot decide. It also has to function within the context of the law which governs it. Isn’t it very premature to speculate on the reasons for its decision not to grant the licence before the Board’s official decision has been published?

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