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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Dec. 30) - Private investment group Partridge Pacific says it plans to develop major retail projects in Fiji and Samoa during 2005.

Partridge Pacific is a recently formed private investment group with offices in Nuku'alofa, Tonga and Sydney, Australia.

Investors are drawn from Australia and the Pacific region, Japan, United Kingdom, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

The company is headed by Rodd Partridge, an experienced international retailer and investor, who is also a principal of Partridge and Associates - an international retail consultancy.

The company's investment strategy is based on the development of retail, tourism and finance projects in the Pacific region. The retail format, modeled on "hyper marts" or "discount department stores" from Australia, the United States and Europe, will be modified to suit the local market conditions.

"We will begin a search for sites early in 2005 initially in and around Suva and Nadi," said Partridge. "The new style store will present a fresh modern format for customers, who for too long have suffered from a lack of choice, over pricing and poor standards and deserve a better deal.

"Our expectation, subject to completion of our project study and obtaining the necessary approvals, is to have our first stores trading by December 2005," Partridge said. "Our new stores will present a major point of difference for our customers, across all departments - from food and home wares to clothing and sporting goods - one-stop shopping if you like.

"We are strongly committed to Fiji and the Pacific region and look forward to forming strong partnerships with local suppliers and certainly with local property developers as we shall be seeking larger stores, which may be required to be built from scratch."

Partridge Pacific sought to acquire an interest in existing an Samoan group, however, in recent days lost the bid, leaving the company clear to concentrate on the launch of its operations in Fiji.

Samoa, like Fiji has seen a concentration in ownership of retailers and Partridge Pacific will review the extension of the concept to Samoa, possibly in partnership with Samoan investors.

The trading name and the community projects policy will be announced at the time of the first site announcement.

December 31, 2004

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