Ever-struggling supermarket chain Alisuper is preparing to offload a number of its outlets to two major supermarket groups – Os Mosqueteiros (Intermarché) and Jerónimo Martins (owner of Pingo Doce).
Os Mosqueteiros has already confirmed the news, saying it is investing €5 million to takeover nine Alisuper outlets in the Algarve.
“We plan to treble the amount of turnover at these supermarkets, as well as keep their 51 workers employed,” Intermarché administrator Carlos Almeida confirmed, adding that the chain may also hire another 91 staff in the long-term as part of expansion plans to open 63 new Intermarché supermarkets before 2020.
The plan is to start the new decade with 295 stores, which would give Intermarché a 13.5% share of the market.
According to the group, the outlets it is taking over are in Albufeira, Alvor, Quarteira, Aljezur, Sagres and Loulé.
The deal, however, is still awaiting the green light from the competition authority (AC).
Meantime, Diário Económico reports that Jerónimo Martins is also in “talks” to take over Alisuper stores.
A source from the group will only confirm that the deal is still under negotiation. Thus the future of Alisuper hangs very much in the balance.
The chain was saved from bankruptcy in 2012 by Grupo Nogueira but has been struggling to establish itself as a sustainable supermarket brand ever since.
In March, owner José Nogueira admitted Alisuper was struggling with the Algarve’s “seasonality”. Not only is it in debt with suppliers, it has failed to pay wages on time.
“The Algarve is very seasonal, it depends a lot on people’s summer holidays,” the businessman said at the time, stressing that sales drop “tragically” between September and April.
He denied, however, that the chain’s future was at stake.
The truth is that when Alisuper was taken over by Grupo Nogueira, it owed around €26 million to the Portuguese government, social security, suppliers, banks and employees.
It is unclear whether any of these debts will be repaid with the money Alisuper is expected to receive from the deals.
According to data cited by Diário Económico, the chain made €27.5 million from sales in 2013 and nearly €30 million last year.
The Resident tried to contact Grupo Nogueira for a statement but as we went to press we had not received any response.
By MICHAEL BRUXO [email protected]