A NEW Retail Park, hosting a range of major stores, two of which will be firsts for the Algarve, is due to open in Portimão this spring.
Boasting a total area of 24,000sqm, the park comprises two levels and includes seven well-known national and international stores, six smaller locally owned shops and a dining floor hosting six restaurants. Situated between Portimão’s hospital and the entrance to Alvor, the open air complex, whose design is said to be reminiscent of the Expo pavilion in Lisbon, can be accessed directly from the EN125 and boasts a spacious free car park.
Third Retail Park for the owners
Owned by the Capital Invest group, whose chairman Alexandre Alves is the former chief executive of FNAC, Portimão’s new Retail Park is expected to be inaugurated at the end of March, opening seven days a week from 10am to 10pm. This will be the group’s third Retail Park, following openings in Aveiro and Leiria (both north of Lisbon).
The Resident’s Caroline Cunha contacted Capital Invest for further information about the new shopping centre and spoke to marketing director, Mariana Figueiredo. “Portimão Retail Park is already built and we are now working on the launch, which is planned for the end of March,” she said.
Initially, The Resident was told that details of the shops would only be revealed at a presentation, set to take place mid February. However, just prior to going press, we were supplied with a few of the store names.
French owned supermarket group Carrefour will be opening a store at the park and there will also be a branch of Portugal’s Rádio Popular, a major electrical goods store. Among other shops set to open are Moviflor (furniture), Deborla (home furnishings), Staples Office Center (stationery and information technology), AKI (DIY goods), Tricana (carpets), Extravaganza (Italian children and babies’ clothes and accessories), Mundo dos Fatos (suits), Ópticas Amparo (opticians) and Espaço de Saúde e Beleza (health and beauty).
Many new jobs
Portimão Retail Park is set to provide around 1,000 new jobs in the area and applications are already flooding in from people interested in working at the stores. Employment is being dealt with by a central human resources office at the park and for anyone interested in finding a position, CVs can be e-mailed to [email protected]
However, it has not been all plain sailing for the developer. There has been ongoing opposition to the project, chiefly from the Associação Comercial de Portimão (ACP), the local business association.
A highly publicised row has taken place concerning the licensing of the new centre, with Paulo Reis, president of ACP, claiming that the park represents a “lack of respect for legality”. The Resident contacted Paulo Reis, who maintained that the Retail Park was approved “without the necessary commercial authorisation from the Comissão de Licenciamento do Algarve”. In addition to this, ACP states that the country’s current economic situation is not suitable for a new shopping centre and that “local businesses should be nurtured instead”.
For his part, the President of Portimão Câmara, Manuel da Luz, has stated: “No illegality exists in what concerns the Câmara.” Meanwhile, Mariana Figueiredo confirmed that all the necessary authorisations are now in place and that all issues have been resolved. “Major stores like Carrefour and Rádio Popular would not open just anywhere; of course the park is legal,” she said.
When asked about the impact the park will have on local commerce, she commented: “We specifically allotted six retail spaces for locally owned businesses in order to promote local commerce.” When challenged about the obvious bitterness of the ACP, she said she felt it was the responsibility of local shops to be “creative” and “work harder” on bringing in customers rather than trying to “kill off new projects”.
It has been reported that the Associação de Comércio e Serviços da Região do Algarve (ACRAL), the association representing retailers and service providers in the Algarve, has taken steps to appease the small shop owners in Portimão, proposing a package of measures to boost their trade, including a special touristic coach route and free transport for tourists, picking up from the area’s hotels and dropping at the local shopping areas, as well as the creation of a space for a regular fair where local businesses can sell excess stock, the construction of a museum featuring regional crafts and authorisation for extended display and seating areas for shops and restaurants in Rua do Comércio/Alameda.
No IKEA store planned for Algarve
Portimão Retail Park is not the only new retail complex set to open in the Algarve. The Resident has received information from a reliable source that licenses are currently being sought for a new shopping centre in Alcantarilha. However, the source rejected rumours concerning the possibility of an IKEA store opening soon in the Algarve, commenting that the group’s investment plans only include the area north of the Tejo.