By PETER ESILA
THE Papua New Guinea economy is and has been flat for a number of years now, longtime businessman Sir Mahesh Patel says.
Sir Mahesh, who is founder of City Pharmacy Ltd Group (CPL), said CPL had been able to achieve success despite this by reevaluating its business model.
He said CPL had done so by “looking at costs and efficiency and right-sizing our business.”
He said businesses in PNG were affected by the same general challenges in terms of increasing costs of doing business, major power supply issues, unnecessary security costs, lack of regular and consistent availability of foreign currency and recently supply chain issues due mainly to Coronavirus (Covid-19) related factors.
CPL was established in 1987 with just one pharmacy and four employees, it now has more than 70 stores nationwide.
Sir Mahesh has helped build a string of well-respected retail brands within CPL Group, including, among others, Stop and Shop (SNS), City Pharmacy and Hardware Haus.
“The major issues which again I have been saying for years is the infrastructure issues, this is a huge hindrance for our farmers to bring produce to market,” he said.
“Added to this is the increasing costs of logistics and transport.”
SNS outlets have been on a drive to get local fresh produce on its shelves.
CPL chief executive officer Navin Raju said 80 per cent of its fresh produce was now sourced locally while 20 per cent was imported.
Meanwhile, Brian Bell Group CEO Cameron Mackellar said earlier that foreign exchange (FX) currency remained an issue faced by many businesses.
He said Brian Bell had experienced this FX issue for the last eight years. “Businesses like ours which import significant volumes of product must line up at the bank each and every week with our hand out just to receive an allocation of foreign currency in order to pay our suppliers,” he said.
Mackellar also described PNG’s economy as currently flat or contracting.
By PETER ESILA