One month ago, mother of two and businesswoman, Ria Sookdeo, kissed her children goodbye as she dropped them off at school.
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Pennywise to open pharmacy chain
More than three decades after the late Lall Paladee started selling cosmetics at the Chaguanas market, the business he founded, Pennywise Cosmetics Ltd, is set to diversify its operation. Managing director Dalvi Paladee announced that pharmacies will soon be added to the Pennywise chain of stores, as well as a personal care supermarket. He said so on Monday as he opened the eighth Pennywise outlet at Gulf City, La Romaine.
Even as the official opening ceremony was taking place, shoppers were lined up outside. They crowded into the new store as soon as the ribbon was cut to mark its formal opening. Paladee said over the next three years, the company hopes to build a mall along the Gulf City Link Road which will include a personal care supermarket, the first of its kind in the Caribbean. He also announced that within three months Pennywise will open the first in its chain of pharmacies.
He said of his sons, Dr Shivum Paladee, a new director of the retail company, will oversee the pharmacy operations in the interim. “Before Christmas, we will open pharmacies at our Port-of-Spain outlet, at Trincity and right here at Gulf City,” Paladee said. “It has taken a lot of hard work and determination and lots of God’s grace to get here. God himself runs the company. We are just the driver, he is giving the instructions.”
Paladee said for a long time they had wanted to establish an outlet at Gulf City, but the space was never available until Hi-Lo moved out earlier this year. The new store opened just four months after Paladee’s sister, school teacher Dian Paladee, was murdered. He briefly mentioned that tragedy in his remarks before an audience which included San Fernando Mayor Kazim Hosein, deputy mayor Junia Regrello, businessman Kama Maharaj and San Fernando Business Association president Daphne Bartlett.
In interview after the formal opening, Paladee told the T&T Guardian: “I loved my sister and I know how much love we had, but we have moved on with our lives understanding her input into our lives.” Speaking about the multi-million dollar business, Paladee said the plan is to open bigger stores occupying to 20,000 square feet to serve customers more efficiently. He said it has become increasingly difficult to serve the growing customer base in the limited environment in which they currently operate.
He also said with opening of this latest branch, the Princes Town outlet will be closed. “The Princes Town store will close on Saturday, but not one of the 55 workers will lose their jobs. Everyone will be absorbed in the San Fernando branch. The San Fernando branch staff has relocated to Gulf City, which has a complement of 80 employees plus auxiliary staff,” he said
Regrello, who welcomed Pennywise to Gulf City, said he was particularly excited about the employment opportunities it created. Maharaj, owner of Sascha Cosmetics, said he has been in partnership with the Paladee family for three decades and congratulated them on this latest branch. Bartlett said the opening had created quite a buzz in Gulf City. She wished them success in their continued investment in San Fernando.