Retail & Distribution

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The Value Proposition


The development of a vibrant and diversified retail and HORECA (Hotel, Restaurant and Cafe`) environment would not have been possible without the long established credit policy of the distributive trade in Barbados. The 45-day terms have allowed myriad establishments to survive and prosper where bank financing was either unavailable or insufficient for the requirements of a start-up, or where cash flow has been temporarily tight.

Very few multinational suppliers have either the infrastructure or the inclination to provide credit facilities to an unlimited number of relatively small accounts in an environment where they cannot accurately assess the risks. This is a crucial component in the selection of a distributor to service an individual territory or group of territories as exists in the Caribbean context.

Smaller local and regional manufacturers need to be paid quickly for their product so that they can reinvest in further production. This is a role that has been played frequently and effectively by distributors across the region, which has provided the breathing space for such companies to increase and diversify their production.


The ability of the distributor to purchase a broad assortment of product in commercially viable quantities and to reallocate that product in smaller increments provides a level of purchasing power that permits the customer to minimize inventory carrying levels while offering a wide array of choice to the ultimate consumer. This is crucial in a market where the available volume/traffic is insufficient to meet the economies of scale that prevail in larger countries.

Today, most of the larger distributors in Barbados offer comprehensive coverage of the full distribution universe estimated at over 2500 outlets including supermarkets, mini marts, pharmacies, auto marts, hardware stores, hotels, restaurants, bars, the duty-free sector, bakeries and medical institutions. This provides local, regional and international suppliers the opportunity to expose their products not only to the entire local population but also to the long-stay tourists.

The major distributors are able to purchase in quantities which meet the minimum order requirements demanded by the larger producers of consumer goods while negotiating favorable shipping rates based on their overall volume. These benefits contribute to keeping the final prices of goods within a reasonable factor of the FOB cost despite the disproportionate level of import duties imposed to protect local and regional manufacturers and to bolster government revenues. Duties on extra-regional goods vary from 20% to well over 100% on product categories where the protection of local supply is most sensitive. This results in an average cost of goods sold for a distributor of approximately 80%, which leaves 20% to cover the expenses of a highly labor-intensive business, particularly in the areas of sales, merchandising and the storage, selection and delivery of goods.

The distributor also plays a very important role in guiding the manufacturer through an intricate regulatory environment where a variety of paperwork and inspection is required to satisfy the dictates of a number of agencies, including the Barbados National Standards Institute, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Trade and HM Customs.


While the previous elements of the value proposition can be said to hold as universally true for the industry it is in this final component that individual players in the industry seek to differentiate their services.

The knowledge base held by the well-established distributor is of incalculable value to a manufacturer seeking to introduce his products to a new and oftentimes culturally foreign market. This knowledge can be illustrated in several facets of the business, including definition of the target market; selection of the variants and sizes most likely to win favor with that target market; development or adaptation of advertising and promotional materials which will appeal to those target markets; and in-depth analysis of the competitive environment, including current pricing and strategic positioning. In order to provide this insight, the industry employs a number of professionals, especially in the areas of marketing, brand management, medical detailing, demand planning and procurement.

Equally as important for the prospective supplier are the long-standing relationships developed with a large and diverse array of trade partners, through a network of channel sales managers, sales representatives and merchandisers, which are essential for attaining the ultimate goal of acquiring placement and prominence in the outlets where the targeted consumers can be engaged.

The product knowledge and skill sets of these individuals form an integral part of the service provided by the distributor to the trade, ensuring that adequate quantities of the precise product mix are not only always available but effectively displayed and rotated to assure visibility and freshness at the point of sale. These teams also provide product information, sampling and cooperative promotional activity at the point of sale to stimulate trial and sales.

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Brydens Distribution
Brydens Distribution’s official website.
Dr. The Hon. David Estwick: Minister of Economic Affairs, Empowerment, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce
A link to the biography of the Minister of Economic Affair, Empowerment, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce.
Ministry of Trade, Industry and Commerce
This website provides information about the ministry, key legislation and online forms.
The Barbados Stock Exchange Inc.
The Barbados Stock Exchange (BSE) is an association of Member-Brokers, operating a Central Marketplace for trading securities.
Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI)
The mission of the BCCI is to provide a network community through which commercial and industrial businesses shall be assisted with their growth and to provide members with a strong voice, vision and focused leadership to enhance and promote the interests of the business community.
The Barbados Private Sector Trade Team (PSTT)
The PSTT provides professional contributions to Barbados and regional trade negotiations on behalf of the Barbados private sector. This PSTT website has current information on the latest developments in the various sectors.



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