BPO arrangement ‘somewhat frustrating’ – retailer
A retail industry leader said it was “somewhat frustrating” that the Government would back overseas shopping in a forthcoming Bermuda Post Office venture.
Lorraine Shailer, head of the retail division of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce, was speaking after Wayne Furbert, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, updated MPs last week on steps to try to increase BPO revenue.
The House of Assembly heard that an online shopping platform will mean people can buy items from the US, which would be delivered on the island through the Post Office.
Mr Furbert said the Post Office would also offer a “last-mile” logistic service to entrepreneurs, e-tailors and businesses, which would allow delivery of island products to homes and workplaces.
Ms Shailer said yesterday: “In short, while we understand the Government’s need for alternative sources of revenue and the importance of improving services, it is very disappointing from a retail perspective to hear that the Government has chosen to support and bolster the ability to shop abroad.
“The Government are fully aware of the challenges that retail face doing business in Bermuda and although there is some merit in this initiative – such as the ‘drop and deliver’ service – it is somewhat frustrating to see the Government supporting off-island retail, despite local retailers remaining one of the largest employers of Bermudians.”
Mr Furbert said that MyBermudaPost, a partnership with MyUS, was expected to have a soft launch by tomorrow and start in earnest next month.
He said it was hoped that the opportunity to buy UK goods would be in place within six months.
The MyUS.com website said that it was “an international shipping and consolidation company based in Sarasota, Florida".
Kevin Smith, the managing director of IBC Bermuda, which runs the ZipX shipping service, said: “For the avoidance of doubt, it is my belief that there is no department of the Bermuda Government that should actively seek partnerships with overseas companies to compete against local business.
“It is truly unfortunate that such a statement even needs to be said.
“In one breath we are told to buy Bermuda then in the next breath the Government is announcing a plan to partner with an overseas company at the detriment of local businesses.”
Mr Smith said he agreed with Mr Furbert that changes had to be made at the post office to stem its losses.
But he added: “I am certain this isn’t the change needed to aid in the process of eliminating such substantial losses.
“There are two ways to avoid losing millions, increase revenue or cut expenses.
“One must ask if there are any operational inefficiencies that currently exist within the post office, and if so, might those inefficiencies have been addressed before our government opted to enter into a partnership with an overseas company?”
He was speaking after Kenny Thomson, the president of shipping company Mailboxes, said he did not support “the notion that the Bermuda Post Office would partner with MyUS, effectively supporting an overseas company to compete with the local shipping companies”.
The Government was asked for comment but none was received by press time.