Jul 20, 2017 Last Updated 2:11 PM, Jun 12, 2017

THE New World Group is changing the landscape of retail sales in Fiji having acquired the Master Franchise Status from the Independent Grocers Association (IGA) in the United States of America. This transition has no doubt changed the shopping experience of many Fijians, not to mention uplifted the standard of supermarkets in the country.

Essentially, IGA is a group of retailers that have gotten together and formed a syndicate that allows them to have the buying power and the access to range that the major players overseas have got. In addition, generally, a lot of the suppliers and manufacturers have minimum order quantities. In that regard, if the minimum order quantity for instance, for a kettle is 100,000 pieces in a year, no single operator would be able to buy 100,000 pieces.

But because IGA is a collective group with 5000 shops globally, it can order 100,000 pieces and be able to distribute it amongst the IGA stores accordingly. With particular to Fiji, there are 27 distributors/suppliers that supply the entire chain. This basically means most, if not all supermarkets across Fiji would possess the same products. Hence, the IGA concept was the most appealing for the Newwrold Group to mark its point of difference – also being the first retailer in the country to introduce IGA in Fiji.

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Room at the Inn

Church ventures into hotel business

BIBLICAL accounts of the birth of Jesus Christ speak of the lack of accommodation in the Palestinian town of Bethlehem, forcing Mary and Joseph into a barn. The rest is history. Today Fiji’s Methodist Church – one of the largest in the region with around 212,000 members – is exploring the possibility of investment in business, primarily a hotel.

Developed by Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, the $FJD110million Park Inn by Radisson will include a hotel, apartments and shopping complex on the corner of Stewart and Saint Fort streets in Suva. It will be the second Radisson property in Fiji, the first being a beachfront property on the holiday island of Denarau.

Carlson Rezidor has signed a management contract with the iTaukei Trust Fund which already owns shares in Radisson Blu and Union Plaza – a shopping mall in Suva’s Central Business District. The Methodist Church will provide land it owns for construction of the hotel and shopping complex which was initially expected to open for business in the first quarter of 2018. 

The land to be developed is 16,000 square metres of prime freehold of which 8000 will be dedicated to the hotel and the remainder towards parking, shops, restaurants and office space.

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For God or for Caesar

The argument for church in business

LIKE any modern organisation, churches need money in order to pay for administration, bills and taxes. There are also the pressing needs of the people in times of natural disasters as well as the time-honoured tradition of clothing the naked, housing the homeless and feeding the hungry.

The main stream Christian churches in the Pacific look to the membership for financial support through freewill offerings during weekly services. In other cases there are annual levies on congregations based on registered membership. Some like Fiji’s Methodist Church and the Tonga Free Wesleyan congregations conduct annual festivities during which members donate Amounts of money during a choral competition.

These annual song fests and the associated bazaars have generated in excess of $FJD4 million per annum. But the high cost of living, village and family obligations mean that the additional burden of donating to the church can be crippling for families. Vicar-General of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Suva, Father Sulio Turagakacivi, said the church must not be a burden to the people.

“Our core business as a church is the salvation of souls, ministering to the people,” Turagakacivi said. “Any money we make goes towards the people through the work we do.” 

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Kava evolution

HIGH along and beneath the ridges above Fiji’s Old Capital from where defiant Fijian warriors once fought the encroaching West, reconciliation is taking place – thanks to a plant that is changing lives. Reknown for their warfare tactics against the colonial government forces aided by the Fijian chief Ratu Seru Cakobau in the late 1800s, descendants of the people on this volcanic island are implementing a new strategy to embrace the world and its markets.

Yaqona (Piper methysticum) or kava as it’s commonly known around the world and, used in traditional Fijian ceremonies to celebrate birth, extending marriage proposals, death, and as a unifying token of peace and reconciliation, is inspiring farmers to a new beginning. It is becoming more lucrative for farmers on this island and others in this Pacific archipelago as more kava markets spring open around the world.

Etuate Draunidalo, 66, a Lovoni villager whose forefathers opposed settlers and their new ways on Ovalau, said they envisioned their future in kava. “I think we now have the answer to it,” Draunidalo, the biggest kava farmer on the island, told Islands Business. “The birth of new ideas, innovation and techniques in this industry are taking our product to places we never dreamt we could reach before.”

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Koila’s House

Scion of chiefly family turns fashion heads

KOILA Ganilau is descended from two of the most powerful households in Fiji – the Ganilaus from Somosomo, Cakaudrove and the Maras of Lakeba, Lau. Both families have connections to every conceivable branch of nobility in Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Hawaii, Maohi (French Polynesia) and Aotearoa, New Zealand. But Ganilau is intent on branching away from the family firm and making a name for herself in the House of Koila under the fashion label Maramadina.

The business involves design of fabric, island wear, beach wear and Pacific fashion based on contemporary, original ideas using colour and flair. It’s not been easy. The business was born in 1991 with the gem of an idea gleaned from watching a bevy of beautiful aunts parade the catwalks of Suva in the late 1980s.

In 2007 Ganilau joined Jacks of Fiji as an in-house designer, taking with her the vision of the Maramadina label. “I’ll always be grateful to Jacks for that opportunity to create new designs and expose the label for people to see, appreciate and enjoy,” Ganilau said. Five turbulent years later after designing for others and a particularly rough domestic situation it was time to move out of the comfort of Jacks and into the competitive world.

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