Building suppliers awaiting 'major pick-up' in demand

By YOURI KEMP

Nassau-based building supplies and hardware retailers yesterday said they expect "a significant pick-up" in demand within the next few weeks to assist post-Hurricane Dorian rebuilding.

Raymond Collins, of Tops Lumber and Plumbing, told Tribune Business: "There is nothing major happening right now business wise, but we expect a significant pick up within the next few weeks for sure."

He added that it was "just a wait period for everything to get levelled out" in terms of the Government indicating when regular shipments can resume through the ports on Grand Bahama and Abaco, and when demand from residents of those islands for reconstruction materials spiked following the receipt of insurance claims payouts.

Mr Collins said he had to-date sent several items to customers in Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, and a large barge of materials to to Man O' War Cay, Abaco.

He emphasised, though, that Tops Lumber has no plans to increase prices in the near future as a result of Hurricane Dorian. Mr Collins explained that the only event that would cause a dramatic increase in building materials prices for Bahamian consumers would be a major hurricane or other natural disaster impacting their foreign suppliers.

He added that inspectors from the Consumer Protection Commission visited the company prior to Hurricane Dorian making landfall, but to his knowledge Tops was in compliance with the law.

Meanwhile, Chris Lleida, Premier Importers chief executive, said his primary concern was getting the company's Abaco store operational again. Expressing relief that it was not totally destroyed by Dorian, he is aiming to reopen that location within two weeks.

Mr Lleida added that there were obvious obstacles to shipping goods and supplies to Abaco given the sheer scale of the destruction inflicted on infrastructure and properties. He said "patience and understanding" was needed to allow rescue personnel in Abaco time to carry out their work.

The Premier Importers chief said his prices were more likely to decrease than increase, especially since the Government has implemented the exigency order providing relief from import tariffs and VAT on materials imported for post-Dorian rebuilding.