Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 5th 2015 Contents NOVEMBER 5 • 2015 www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COVER STORY | BG5
munity not to fight the growing trend of
online shopping but to embrace it as the shift
is inevitable .
"E-commerce is the future but at present
it only represents six per cent of total retail
sales in the United States. Yes, it is growing
very quickly but it is still a small portion.
People still like to touch, still like to taste, they
still like to feel. I have to shop for my stores
and I go to China, Panama, Europe. I can buy
everything from my desktop computer for my
stores but I choose not to. I still want to feel
and touch and see. My customer is the same
way," he said.
Sports and Games was founded in
1945 by Horace E. Ames and Gerry
Hadeed referred to Gomez as
a "sporting icon" as he played
for the West Indies cricket
team while Ames was a busi-
United Kingdom, the two
sportsmen saw sports sup-
ply stores there and decid-
ed that Trinidad needed a
similar store and they
opened the first store on
Henry Street in Port-of-
"In 1961, disaster struck
and there was a huge fire at
that location and then they
relocated to Chacon Street
which is still there today."
He said they continued to
expand the brand locally by
expanding to Tobago as well as
regionally in Barbados and Jamaica.
By 1993, there was a lack of suc-
cession and Gomez decided to sell
Sports and Games Ltd to Emperor
Footwear, which was a supplier of branded
foot wear in those days. Emperor Footwear
was founded by Omar Hadeed's father, Charles
"Emperor Footwear was a manufacturer
and he supplied to Sports and Games. In those
days we had the license for Puma and produced
their products in T&T. In those days there
were import restrictions so all the components
had to be shipped here and put together. We
had a factory right here on this compound.
There was the relationship between my father
and Gerry Gomez. The market had just started
to open up and there was no need for man-
ufacturing here and it was cheaper simply to
import. My father thought it time to diversify,"
After buying over Sports and Games Ltd,
his father sold the stores in Barbados and
"Those days there were three stores in
Trinidad and we grew it to 15 locations. Now
we have 12," he said.
He said a lot has changed since his father
bought the brand almost 25 years ago.
"Things have evolved greatly. In those days
Sports and Games was very sport oriented
which it still is. The core business was sporting
goods and electronics. Sports and Games was
always affiliated with some of the biggest
names in sports. We diversified the company
to more mainstream so we started to introduce
brand-wear footwear and clothing. There was
an element of fashion and we eliminated the
electronics," he said.
By the early 2000s the new owners started
to redefine the brand.
"We started to open large outlets. We went
from four stores in the late 1990s
to 15 stores within ten
years and these
10,000 sq ft. They
were designed by a Euro-
pean company called Umdach, a world-
renowned company. They have designed a lot
of the Nike concept stores. We started our
first concept store at Trincity Mall, which we
opened in 2001. The reception was great. It
was a new way of selling and at that time it
was one of the largest retail outlets in the
country. It had a clean look and was well lit.
We brought in international companies to train
our staff," he said.
At the moment Sports and Games has 12
stores inclusive of Tobago and they have recent-
ly opened a new store in Barbados.
"It was opened in March 2014. It has been
challenging as the economy in Barbados has
been stagnant but we have committed to our
expansion regionally. However, the response
has been fantastic in Barbados. Surprisingly
the culture in Barbados is different. They ben-
efit from the influx of tourism and they have
duty free prices. Most of our customers in
Barbados commend us on our product range
and prices compared to what they are accus-
tomed to in England or the United States," he
He said they hope to expand to St Lucia
and to Jamaica.
"We are looking at this expansion within
the next five years," he said.
In T&T, he said
over the years
out most of
the other com-
petitors starting with
Super Star and the Sports Master.
"On the last market research that was done
in 2014, we occupied 72 per cent market share
within our category which is sporting goods,"
Despite their dominant market position, he
said in this era everyone wants to be an entre-
preneur and there are a lot of people selling
out of their homes and this is cutting into
"A lot of athletes and persons involved in
sport actually buy and bring their own prod-
ucts. So you have tennis coaches bringing in
their own tennis rackets. There are gym
instructors that bring in their own fitness
accessories for their customers. So everyone
wants to do business and be an entrepreneur
without having a brick and mortar store. Of
course it has affected us as that is our customer
base and with that direct relationship with
the supplier it is difficult to compete as at the
end of the day we are a massive chain of stores
and we are unable to give that same expertise
as would the coaches who specialise in their
areas," he said.
He also spoke about the problems of access-
ing foreign exchange to do business.
"It has been an issue for us over the last
three years, but it has been worsening for the
last year. I think the Central Bank needs to
review the structure that they have. We are
a seasonal company and supply products for
certain times of the year like for the football
season we must have football accessories, and
the same goes for cricket, tennis and all other
sports. We have struggled to supply the product
for the time in which it is is necessary. As a
result we have been bringing in goods later
than the season and we have been losing
sales," he said.
Sports and Goods distributes inter-
national brands like Wilson in tennis,
Spalding in basketball, Speedo in
swimming among other brands.
He said those suppliers have
been "frustrated" by late pay-
ments from Sports and
"They have worked with
us but there is a limit," he
Hadeed said in the
2000s they concentrated
on super stores and now
they have consolidated
those stores but they can
no longer fit all their items
into the physical store space.
"We cannot stock all the
items such as punching bags
or tennis tables. So we have to
use the integration of e-com-
merce into the stores. By the time
we celebrate our 75th anniversary
we would have remodeled all of our
stores. We have completed the design
phase and now it is to implement and we
are going into a new age of retail stores," he
He said in the same way they redefined
themselves in the early 2000s they are going
to redefine themselves within next five years.
"These stores would be geared to the new
customer. The new customer demands service,
the new customer is more connected, more
intelligent. When the customer comes in to
the new look store, they will find portals where
they can shop online. So the customer comes
in the store with the brand new website and
they order what they want, with the advantages
of touching and feeling. So you want a treadmill
and we do not have the color you want, you
can go and order it online at our in-house
portal. It would be delivered to you in 24 hours
and if you do not like it, it will be refunded
in another 24 hours," he said.
They will have this first concept store opened
in nine months time.
"The first store is expected to be opened at
the Price Plaza branch. We are also at Gulf
City for the second concept store. There will
be the remodeling of existing stores."
He said the landscape of retail worldwide
"These changes must be embraced. Those
who are innovative will survive and those who
refuse to change will become extinct. We are
doing our best to be innovative," he said.
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70 years of building trust
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