Portuguese retail group Sonae MC invested €98.5 million in its Continente store network in 2017, opening 20 new supermarkets and creating 1,080 new jobs.
Significantly, 19 of the 20 new openings were Continente Bom Dia stores - the retailer's neighbourhood format - located within urban communities.
Continente Bom Dia offers a wide product range, consisting of tens of thousands of references, with a special focus on fresh products, preferably from the surrounding region. Inside, the store is designed to look like a traditional market, with separate areas dedicated to bakery, butchery, fish, and fruit and vegetables.
In 2017, Sonae MC also opened the Continente Modelo Alto do Lumiar hypermarket, the largest store the retailer opened last year, following an investment of €14 million. The hypermarket is part of a shopping gallery that includes other Sonae-owned stores, such as note!, Well's and Bagga.
After opening six stores in the district of Lisbon, three in Porto, two in Braga, two in Setúbal, two in Viana do Castelo, and one each in Coimbra, Beja and Aveiro, Continente plans to continue its expansion strategy in 2018, betting again on proximity formats.
Sonae MC’s strategy is in line with current retail trends in Portugal, with consumers favouring small and medium-sized stores that allow them to make everyday purchases, quickly and conveniently.
Market research by Nielsen Portugal in 2017 showed that proximity and convenience store formats have the highest growth rate in Portugal, to the detriment of large stores, especially hypermarkets.
Elsewhere, Sonae MC has been developing another proximity store format, Meu Super, which is offered under franchise to local partners. The stores are located in residential areas and have a sales area of between 100 and 400 square metres.
Meu Super stores feature personalised customer service and an adjusted product offer, focusing on fresh produce. The references include Continente’s private label brands, such as Seleção Continente, Fácil & Bom Continente, Contemporal, Bio e Saudável or MyLabel.
Since the start of 2018, two new Meu Super stores have been opened in Ermesinde and Unhais-o-Velho, in addition to the three new points of sale that were added in December, in Valado dos Frajes (district of Leiria), São Bartolomeu Mar/Esposende (Braga), and Estrela do Calheta (Madeira).
The Meu Super network now consists of more than 260 stores, and was the franchise banner that registered the highest growth in Portugal in the period 2015-2016.
Sonae MC is not the only retailer in Portugal to react to changes in consumption patterns, with many retailers developing similar formats to respond to urban consumer needs.
Auchan Portugal has announced plans to invest €90 million in MyAuchan, its neighbourhood store format, which was first introduced in March 2017. The retailer says that it is opting for sustainable rather than organic growth by opening neighbourhood stores in areas of the country where it already has supermarkets or hypermarkets.
© 2017 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Branislav Pekic. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine