By: CHRIS GRAEME
STILT WALKERS, snake charmers and fire eaters added spice and colour to the fanfare opening of Alfragide Shopping Centre near Lisbon last week.
The Alegro Centro Comercial incorporating a completely revamped Jumbo supermarket is a 63 million euro project from the property development arm Immochan of French retail and food group Auchan.
The first Auchan shopping centre in Portugal, the Jumbo hypermarket is the first to use new technology whereby shoppers can use manual bar code readers to clock up their purchases, and pay at machines, avoiding the traditional long queues at cash desks.
Alegro Alfragide covers a 39,500 metre area, offers 2,500 free parking spaces, and is marketed as a “Shopping Centre to suit all pockets”, has 120 shops, 20 restaurants, 10 cinemas, and is expected to attract 10 million shoppers in the first 12 months of operation.
The shopping centre, which will employ 5,200 direct and indirect staff, has a catchment area of two million inhabitants in five boroughs including Lisbon, Amadora, Oeiras, Cascais and Sintra.
The Jumbo hypermarket covers an area of 11,000 square meters and, along with Fnac, is one of the two main anchor stores at the new shopping mall.
At the official opening of the shopping centre, Eduardo Igrejas, President of Auchan Portugal, said that “clients today were demanding more and better and we’ve answered that request with Alegro.”
Isaltino Morais, the colourful and controversial President of Oeiras Câmara, famous for opposing shopping centres because they killed off local traders in Oeiras, said that he admired the quality construction of the project and the fact that so many jobs had been created.
He said that it didn’t “make sense for the people of Oeiras, the district with the largest purchasing power outside of Lisbon and Porto, to go miles away to do their shopping.”
Fernando Serrasqueiro, Secretary of State for Commerce and Consumer Rights, said that “projects like the Alegro Shopping Centre were modernising a vital sub-sector of the national economy – retail. He added that shopping centres had been a runaway success in Portugal.
Immochan is to open another large shopping centre in Castelo Branco in 2008 and hopes to win the bid to construct a further shopping centre in Leiria.
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