ST JOHN’S, Antigua – With all his resources spent, businessman Dante Tagliaventi said it would take nothing short of a miracle to stop the imminent closure of his Heritage Quay jewellery and leather goods store, Luxury Brands, which would make it his third business to fold within a year.
The Italian investor said his business is operating at a loss and he can no longer dip into his pocket to continue operations. Already he has had to terminate two of four employees but that has not impacted his yields.
“I have had to pay off two staff and keep two because it is difficult to meet my expenses. It is very difficult. I cannot afford to keep up with an investment that is only taking from me so by the end of the winter season I will have to close,” the operator said.
The closure, he added, will come in another four or five months “if not before.”
“I waited for the high (tourist) season to start with the hope things would be different but it has not done good. This year my local sales stood at about 78 per cent less than last year and sales from tourists have been worse. Every year it keeps getting worse,” the businessman lamented.
He further revealed that although there have been several cruise ships in Antigua in recent weeks, he did little business.
“Today (Tuesday) 5,000 tourists came in and I’ve sold US $75 and only EC $750. That’s the reality. And with rent at $14,000 a month that is the number one killer.
“I love Antigua, I love doing business here but my resources are drying up. If something big happens it may help save my situation but I think we’ve all accepted nothing’s happening in Antigua.
“The rent to St John’s Development Corporation plus the poor sales have been crippling and I believe government needs to put more effort to help us by reviewing the rent to SJDC. Last season I lost, this season I’m still losing. What’s left for me to do?” Tagliaventi posited.
Luxury Brands has been in operation for six years, Tagliaventi said, and to have to shut it down “is a sad thing” because a month ago he was forced to close Timeless Treasures after 31 years in business and Millennium, which lasted 17 years.
Both establishments sold jewellery and leather goods. The shutdown of those two operations left half a dozen people without jobs.