Anthony Sabga-Aboud

Global Brands director, Anthony Sabga-Aboud, stands outside the Maraval outlet of two of the group’s quick-service brands, Pizza Boys and Church’s Chicken. —Photo: Jermaine Cruickshank

AS online platforms continue to evolve for businesses, amid the Covid-19 crisis, Global Brands is taking full advantage of the technology and will be launching its platform next month.

The platform will allow customers of Global Brands—the parent company of Rituals Coffee House, Donut Boys, Wok N Roll, Pizza Boys and Church’s Chicken—to order without the hassle of standing in line six feet apart.

In Trinidad and Tobago there are 20 Pizza Boys branches, 65 Rituals, 20 Church’s Chicken and two Wok N Roll outlets. In St Kitts, there are two Pizza Boys and four Rituals outlets, while in St Lucia there is one Church’s Chicken and three Rituals outlets.

In a sit-down interview with Express Business last Friday, Global Brands director Anthony Sabga-Aboud said before the virus disrupted the world, the company was exploring the use of digital platforms to transform the business. When Covid arrived, it accelerated the need for transformation to move all their brands onto the online space.

“We did not want to come with an online platform, that everyone else had. The company wanted a unique programme to integrate all our brands into one, where customers can earn and redeem points across all our brands and also order gift cards. Also the customer can go cashless with our e-wallet feature.”

Sabga-Aboud, 33, explained that Global Brands is launching three mobile apps: one each for Pizza Boys, Church’s Chicken and Rituals, so whereas customers have one app for all brands, they can also intertwine.

He said: “Global Brands partnered with its point of sale provider to build the one-of-a-kind platform, in order to have a seamless experience for both the customer and staff. Also when the customer orders online the item/items registers instantly at the particular outlet and the order is ready between 5-10 minutes for pickup.

Asked how much was spent to roll out this new online platform, Sabga-Aboud did not wish to divulge the actual figure, but stated it was a significant investment, which would benefit the company in years to come.

He quickly pointed out that the transformation process does not in any way affect head count.

“In fact we have been training our staff to use the new software and also to understand how the apps work, so that the proper information can be disseminated to the customer.”

The group launched delivery service for Church’s Chicken, Pizza Boys and Rituals last year and Donut Boys’ delivery service is expected to be rolled out soon.

Rebranding

The Global Brands director said another project the company undertook was the upgrading and remodelling the look of Pizza Boys and Church’s Chicken at the Maraval food mall.

“Pizza Boys now has a new “pizza perfect image”, which is a more modern design, while Church’s Chicken has a new logo, which shows the Texan roots of the brand. The aim is to remodel five other locations before the end of the year,” he said.

Foreign exchange frustration

Sabga-Aboud said as the foreign exchange woes deepen, the problem continues to be a challenge for his business.

“The company had to try many different ways to manage the US dollar. We have had to use more local products as it was difficult to buy all the foreign products with the little US currency that is at our disposal. However on the upside we are now able to purchase from the local manufacturers regularly and the quality of the products Global Brands offers has not dropped. Which is a big plus.”

He said the issue continues to be of great concern to the business community and he is hopeful that in the near future it can be addressed as it has been this way for over five years.

Covid-19 impact

As with many businesses over the past year, 2020 was difficult for Global Brands, as its sales dropped by 15 per cent, however with the online transformation and rebranding exercise, Sabga-Aboud is optimistic that the sales will start climbing back.

He said despite this, all of the group’s 1,300 employees throughout all its locations have remained employed and safe.

“Hours have been reduced for workers, as all establishments were ordered by the Government to close at 10 p.m. daily to help curb the spread of the virus and last week in-house dining was restricted once again as result of the spike in the numbers. We understand why such measures had to be undertaken and in the meantime we just continue to rotate staff.”

According to Sabga-Aboud due to the closure of the borders, the company kept one Rituals branch open at the Piarco International Airport and transferred the remaining staff to other outlets.

In St Lucia and St Kitts, because those islands are tourist-oriented, he noted sales have declined, but he said the group is managing operations and there is no intentions to “pack up shop”.

Regarding curbside, he said there has been an uptick for the various brands and with in-house dining restricted the demand for curbside will grow.

With the roll-out of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Trinidad and Tobago, which began on April 6, Sabga-Aboud said Global Brands is ready to work with the Government to purchase the vaccines for its employees and their family members.

“The economy has taken a serious hit by the impact of Covid, so the faster we achieve herd immunity, some kind of normalcy can begin and the businesses that still have restrictions imposed can start to recover,” Sabga-Aboud added.

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