It was saved from bankruptcy in 2012, but supermarket chain Alisuper is once again in the financial doldrums.
Managed by Grupo Nogueira, the chain claims it is struggling with the Algarve’s “seasonality” and has admitted it is in debt to many suppliers and has failed to pay wages on time.
The news surfaced after a member of CESP, the union for commercial workers, visited one of the chain’s supermarkets following an anonymous tip-off.
“All you have to do is go to the supermarkets to see that there are issues with the stocking of products,” CESP representative Maria José Madeira revealed.
José Nogueira is adamant that the future of Alisuper – which has 43 of its 49 supermarkets in the Algarve – is not at stake.
Speaking to Expresso newspaper, he said the chain’s problems are being dealt with and wages owing for February and March have already been paid.
“Sales are actually good,” José Nogueira told Expresso. “But market conditions are very difficult. People aren’t buying,” he said, adding that costs with electricity, rent and petrol are “very high”.
“The Algarve is very seasonal, it depends a lot on summer holidays,” the businessman added, stressing that sales drop “tragically” between September and April.
The region’s dependency on summertime crowds has led Nogueira to close 18 supermarkets during the low season.
“We have two in Mantarrota, but who goes there now?” he wasn’t expecting an answer.
Even Alisuper’s outlet in Olhão has felt the chill – recently closing for good due to the landlord’s refusal to negotiate a more accommodating rent.
Nonetheless, José Nogueira claims he has meetings scheduled with bank creditors to “lower interest rates” and is preparing to expand to the north of the country in a bid to guarantee a “more stable” source of income.
Other than its stores in the Algarve, Alisuper has shops in Cascais, Seixal, Oeiras and Moimenta da Beira.
Grupo Nogueira has been in charge of the chain ever since it took over Silves-based Alicoop in 2012 – paying €26 million and inheriting a long list of debts.
The group made headlines last year when it uncharacteristically bought-up the assets of Silves’ cork museum (see story ‘Council surprise as Silves’ tourist attractions snapped up at auction’ at portugalresident.com)
By MICHAEL BRUXO