Spanish eye supermarket chain

MARRACHINHO, THE second biggest supermarket chain in the Algarve, could be passing into Spanish hands, according to press rumours.

Francisco Díaz Mingorance, president of the El Jamón chain of supermarkets, located near the Portuguese border town of Vila Real de Santo António, insists that negotiations will start in September to purchase an Algarvean chain of 16 supermarkets. “I was all set to finalise the sale, but the Portuguese owner preferred to wait for the forecast increase in summer tourist revenue, and asked to negotiate later,” said Mingorance.

The Portuguese press has assumed that Mingorance is referring to the Marrachinho supermarkets because José António Silva, the owner of Alisuper, the biggest Algarve group, has denied any contact with the Spanish chain. The Marrachinho group is a family business, founded in 1970 by the father of the present owner, José Manuel Marrachinho. It employs more than 500 people and has shops stretching from Lagos to Monte Gordo.

José Marrachinho says his group is not for sale but admits that a very good offer would be hard to refuse. “We started contacts with this chain – El Jamón – two years ago, but, in the end, nothing arose from them. Recently, I have received contacts from other groups and officials from many of them have come to our offices. But no firm offer is on the table. I don’t need to sell and, if I do, it would have to be a very good proposal and I would have to think twice,” he says. This year has been marked by Spanish interest in the Algarve. The most high profile takeover was the January purchase of Vilamoura Marina by Prasa, a Spanish real estate group.