The Board of Almond Resorts Inc (ARI) confirmed today at a Special Meeting of Shareholders that Almond Beach Village will be closed at monthend. The news of the closure should not come as a surprise because it was hinted at in recent weeks by senior Neal & Massy personnel. It was confirmed at the meeting today that Scotiabank – after several loans arrangements – pull the plug. There is the good news that the other Almond properties will likely be sold as going concerns.
The closure of Almond Beach Village will be a massive blow to the tourism sector and economy of Barbados. Over 500 employees on the breadline with the official employment rate posted at 10%+ gives good reason for a national response. The shareholders present at the meeting today viewed unaudited financials up to end of December 2012 – huge losses, negative cashflows and deep erosion of shareholders equity makes the decision to close a no-brainer but…
It is interesting Warner (CEO of Neal & Massy) took the time to stress to shareholders today that the aggressive expansion strategy by the Ralph Taylor led Board in 2006 over-leveraged ARI. He qualified his statement by stating no one could have predicted the global economic meltdown which has led to the financial difficulty ARI is experiencing. BU wonders why a short 5-years ago when Ralph Taylor and company made the decision to expand there was no vision to upgrade the existing plant. It was a poor decision by Barbados’ leading hotelier and his other board members.
The other notable occurrence at the Special Meeting was the presentation of Mia Mottley who represented her father on a proxy. Mottley must be given kudos for finding the time to lend her voice to another cause on the side of the people. BU cannot do justice to her eloquent delivery in written form. She explained to the Board how important the ARI product to the economy of Barbados. She used the analogy that the closure of the Almond Beach Village is to be likened to a hurricane hitting the economy of Barbados. She suggested that the psyche of Barbadians must be managed carefully given consideration to how the closure is likely to be received. She reminded the CEO of Neal & Massy that it is a company with other businesses operating in Barbados. The analogy used by Mottley when she reminded the room of of the time Barbadians boycotted a Test match was misunderstood by Warner but not by the Barbadians present.
The question on the lips of many is how is government going to respond given the gravamen of the matter. So far discussions between Neal & Massy and the Barbados government has not borne any positive results. Say what you will this DLP government has had to deal with a few challenging matters.