- Title: Venezuelan businessman uses 'Walmart' branding to make a profit
- Date: 11th December 2019
- Summary: PUERTO CABELLO, VENEZUELA (DECEMBER 10, 2019) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR ''MINI WALMART'' STORE SIGN THAT READS: ''MINI WALMART'' PRODUCTS ON SALE SEEN FROM WINDOW VARIOUS OF STORE INTERIOR STORE OWNER HECTOR MAMBEL HOLDING A BOTTLE OF OIL (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) STORE OWNER, HECTOR MAMBEL, SAYING: ''We have been offering imported goods for a year now. However we have decided to reference American chains so that customers identify that in our establishment they can find all those products they expect.'' PRODUCTS ON SALE SEEN ON SHELVES GENERAL OF STORE INTERIOR VARIOUS OF PRODUCTS ON SHELVES (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) STORE OWNER, HECTOR MAMBEL, SAYING: ''We basically buy in the main American chains. In the case of our specific store we only buy in the United States, we buy in ''BJ's,'' ''Sam's Club,'' ''Leader Price,'' ''Walmart,'' ''Member's Mark'' all the main chains selling these types of products in the United States.'' VARIOUS OF PRODUCTS ON SHELVES VARIOUS OF WOMEN LOOKING AT PRODUCTS ON SALE (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) STORE OWNER, HECTOR MAMBEL, SAYING: ''We want customers to access what they were already used to because Venezuelans generally have good taste. In Venezuela there are or used to be a high number of imported products, most of these products were marketed here either through importers or companies with production capacity installed in the country, which at some point ceased production and this resulted in the shortage or non-presence of these products to which we were accustomed to see on the shelves.'' VARIOUS OF WOMEN LOOKING AT PRODUCTS IN THE STORE VARIOUS OF WOMEN AT CHECKOUT COUNTER CASHIER PLACING PRODUCTS INTO BAG VARIOUS OF PRODUCTS ON SHELVES EXTERIOR ''MINI WALMART'' STORE
- Embargoed: 25th December 2019 17:31
- Keywords: Venezuela Walmart branding imported goods
- Location: PUERTO CABELLO, VENEZUELA
- City: PUERTO CABELLO, VENEZUELA
- Country: Venezuela
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA001B9J9TFR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: A Venezuelan businessman has re-branded his store 'Mini Walmart,' which is located in the country's main port of Puerto Cabello, in the midst of an economic crisis sweeping through the socialist country led by President Nicolas Maduro.
But Walmart Inc has not ventured into business in Venezuela - in fact many prominent brands have left the country - but rather the store belongs to a bold businessman who wants to make a profit.
The store changed its name to 'Mini Walmart' last week, causing uproar on social media, with people showing disbelief as the country goes through its sixth straight year of economic contraction.
Store owner Hector Mambel said he decided to rename his store to attract customers wishing to find American products. Mambel said he is not afraid of being sued by Walmart because he said diplomatic relations between Venezuela and the United States are ''non-existent''.
Mambel said he imports merchandise purchased from several American chains such as ''BJ's,'' ''Sam's Club,'' ''Leader Price,'' ''Walmart,'' and ''Member's Mark.'' Customers have complained prices at the store have gone through the roof.
In the past, Maduro had attempted to keep consumer goods prices low despite galloping inflation with strict enforcement of price controls. This year, with the OPEC nation facing crippling U.S. sanctions on its oil industry, the government has left retailers more or less alone.
In January, the government said it would make price controls more "flexible" and loosen a complex, long-standing system of currency controls. That has led to a wider circulation of foreign currency, as Venezuelans turn to the dollar to protect their earnings against a fast-devaluing local bolivar.
The reforms, however, have not revived the economy. Inflation in the nine months through September was 4,680% while commercial activity fell 39.2% in the first quarter compared with the same period last year, according to the most recent central bank data. A migration wave that has seen more than 4 million Venezuelans flee the country has continued unabated.
But the contours of Venezuela's economic crisis have shifted. While price controls once led to bare supermarket shelves and long lines, stores are now better stocked but with goods whose prices are far beyond the reach of those who earn the minimum wage of less than $10 per month.
(Production: Johnny Carvajal, Geraldine Downer)
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