By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
The Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) is “entertaining offers” to lease or acquire its iconic JFK Drive headquarters as it reexamines its real estate portfolio following COVID-19’s impact.
Garfield “Garry” Sinclair, pictured, the carrier’s chief executive, told Tribune Business that the increased productivity its staff are enjoying working from home - as well as the reduction in its workforce - meant it no longer needed such a massive head office building.
“We’ve moved out of JFK Drive,” he confirmed to this newspaper. “We’ve still maintained a presence on the first floor for storage. We’ve decommissioned JFK Drive, are out of there, and have no intention in the medium and long-term of going back into JFK Drive.
“One of the benefits of looking for efficiencies has been the pandemic’s impact. We obviously want to ensure we maximise any value that’s to be had from that building given that we’re not occupying it any more. We’re entertaining any number of inquiries to lease it, to lease-to-buy, or to buy. We’re exercising all options.”
Mr Sinclair said BTC’s future head office post-COVID-19 will be split between its Poinciana Drive and Perpall Tract locations, adding: “Working from home is going really well.” He denied assertions by Ricardo Thompson, head of BTC’s management union, that the West Bay Street exchange building near Nesbitt’s has also been put up for sale, but confirmed BTC is assessing all its property portfolio.
“What I will say definitively is that we’re assessing the need for buildings overall given the productivity we’ve enjoyed in the home. We’re reassessing the building footprint in its entirety.”
BTC’s head office has long been a major feature of corporate Bahamas’ real estate landscape, and the carrier’s departure from the property will mark a major change. Both BTC unions, though, are disputing that the move to working from home has resulted in major productivity improvements.
Bernard Evans, the Bahamas National Congress of Trade Unions (NCTU) president, and former head of BTC’s line staff union, added: “It’s far from being the giant it used to be in terms of the number of employees. The HQ building is empty right now. JFK Drive is a ghost town, Perpall Tract is a ghost town. It’s a shell of its former self now.”
Dino Rolle, the present line staff union head, described BTC’s JFK Drive property as “a graveyard” with “nobody in that building”. He added that the company “appears intent on selling off that building”, although nothing formal had been communicated to the union about the matter.