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Antonia Trading temporarily closes Matalan Seychelles to the public |07 December 2020

Antonia Trading temporarily closes Matalan Seychelles to the public

The department store had become popular during its few weeks in operation

After only a couple of weeks in business, Antonia Trading will be temporarily closing down Matalan Seychelles due to a lack of qualified workers.

Antonia Trading, the parent company of Matalan Seychelles, noted that the store has been operating on a 'soft opening' mode with operating hours decided on a day to day basis depending on the number of staff who arrive for their scheduled shift

“Unfortunately, our business today had a significantly higher than normal level of absenteeism and sickness within the sales team following pay-day. As a result we took the decision not to open today (Friday) as we could not be assured that we would be able to deliver service to the high standard that you expect from us,” said Antonia Trading.

They added that the way operations have been conducted is taking a heavy toll on the existing staff including the management team who are working excessive hours due to the human resource constraints.

“Antonia Trading has therefore taken the decision not to reopen its Matalan store until such time that it has the right team – the right number of colleagues and of the right calibre. We cannot put a timescale when we shall reopen. We shall reopen only when we can be assured that we have the resources to serve you at the correct standard, and which puts a fair workload on our existing colleagues who are committed and reliable,” it said.

Seychelles NATION caught up with the owner and founder of Antonia Trading, Robert Stravens, who explained to us that the main problem they have is finding the right people with the skills needed to work in a big department store.

“There are people who are calling us and sending their CVs but they are mainly looking for part-time employment rather than full-time and for the time being we need a team that we can rely and count on,” he said.

Mr Stravens added that the store has had some difficulty getting employees and noted that even if it had had high turnovers and absentees with the employees it has, it is because of the need for more workers that it is closing temporarily.

“Some of the workers that we had had little experience working in retail and were new to the job market and with the overwhelming response from the public we have been extremely busy so we need to be well resourced and conduct operations properly and be able to have a proper opening and closing time,” said Mr Stravens.

He added that they need people who are used to working on their feet for long hours.

“We are not closed for good as the team is still preparing for the day we open and we will try to have a careers fair to see if we can recruit new workers and keep looking for workers so we can open,” Mr Stravens said.

The department store has also been working closely with the Ministry of Employment and recently sat down with the principal secretary for Employment, Jules Baker.

As for the money the department store will lose during the holiday season, Mr Stravens noted that making a profit during this time is not on their mind as they are working towards longevity and making sure that it is a household name in Seychelles.

“We are committed to this project and we have created the opportunity for people and we are encouraging them to apply,” he said.

When the announcement was made on Friday afternoon that the store will be closing down temporarily, many people took to social media to express their sadness as the department store had become quite popular during its few weeks in operation.

“We wanted to build a store that is going to give ordinary Seychellois families good products at a fair value and we still believe in that and that’s what we are going to do,” concluded Mr Stravens.


Christophe Zialor

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