By CAROLINE CUNHA
FAMILY FASHION retailer C&A opened its first store in the Algarve at Forum Algarve shopping centre in Faro on Wednesday last week. Despite the bad weather, hundreds turned out for the opening ceremony.
Such was the response, that an hour after the store opened there was a 100 metre long queue for the tills, stretching right back to the shop’s entrance. Apart from the novelty factor of the shop being new and unique in the Algarve, shoppers were also attracted by the special 20 per cent discount offered on purchases made on the opening day.
Norman Brenninkmeijer, a member of the fifth generation of C&A’s Dutch founding family, presided over the proceedings, together with the president of Faro Câmara, José Apolinário. In addition, Padre Manuel, a local priest, was invited to bless the new store.
José Apolinário expressed his pride at an internationally known brand such as C&A choosing Faro to locate its first store in the Algarve. He also said that by such a strong brand investing in Faro that it was good for the competitive strength of the city economically, as well as the shopping centre itself.
Norman Brenninkmeijer spoke of the company’s philosophy of offering fashion for the whole family at favourable prices and the company’s plans in Portugal. The new store at Forum Algarve is one of nine that C&A bought from the Maconde Group (six Macmoda and three Tribo stores) located in Lisbon, Faro, Massamá (Sintra), Leiria (central Portugal) and Guimarães (northern Portugal). With these acquisitions, the company will expand its operations throughout Portugal with more openings planned for the end of the year. “The company’s growth reflects the acceptance of the brand in Portugal. Portugal loves C&A and C&A loves Portugal,” he joked. He also took the opportunity to thank the shopping centre, the council and all the staff for their help in getting the store ready on time to open.
The Resident asked Norman Brenninkmeijer if there were plans to open further stores in the Algarve, to which he replied: “First we want to see the response to this store, but yes, there could be.”
Every time a new C&A store is opened, the tradition is for the company to make a donation to a local children’s charity and this was no exception at Faro. A donation of 2,500 euros was made to Refúgio Aboim Ascenção, a children’s home in central Faro. The president of the home, Luís Villas-Boas, was present to receive the cheque accompanied by some of the home’s children.
José Apolinário and Norman Brenninkmeijer cut the ribbon to declare the shop open, together with two of the children, before large numbers of customers began streaming into the store.
The management and C&A’s PR company Inforpress told The Resident they were “absolutely amazed” at the number of people flocking into the store and, in order to speed up the service at the tills, Norman Brenninkmeijer and António Mendes from the board of C&A Portugal rolled up their sleeves, got behind the counter and served customers. “We never expected this,” they said.
Around half the people in the store on the opening morning appeared to be English and The Resident caught up with some of them to find out what they thought of C&A coming to the Algarve.
Tony and Ann Bristow from Fonte Figueira in Salir, who have lived in the Algarve nearly 19 years said that they were big fans of C&A. “My mother always shopped at C&A and I always shopped there for myself and my children before they closed the stores in England,” said Ann. “This jacket I am wearing comes from C&A and I bought it 17 years ago. That’s quality for you,” said Tony.
Sheelagh Glossop from Moncarapacho came to the opening with Joan Cameron from Santa Catarina. “I always shopped in C&A for the children and the grandchildren,” said Sheelagh. “We were devastated when they shut down the stores in the UK a few years ago,” they both said.
Josie Boothby and her husband Edwin had travelled from just north of Tavira for the opening. “We were very excited to hear that a C&A was opening in Faro,” they said. “It is wonderful – there is nothing else like this here. I only brought him to carry the bags and bring the chequebook,” laughed Josie, with her arms full of clothes.
Also at the opening were Joan Pilgrim from Praia da Luz, Linda Frost from Luz and Sheila Gilden from São Brás. “The Algarve has been crying out for something like this,” said Joan. “I’m so glad it’s here,” said Sheila. “I’ve always shopped at C&A. My daughter lives in Germany and every year I go to the C&A stores there.”
For more information about this years fashion at C&A visit www.c-and-a.com.