Judging by the hundreds of people who had gathered outside Iceland’s inaugural supermarket in Guia, Albufeira this week, awaiting its official opening, this trademark British store boasts all the necessary ingredients for success, even in a recessionary market.
Hundreds of expats and locals on Wednesday braved British-like weather to stock up on goods, many of which they will have seen in the UK.
An estimated three hundred people had gathered outside the store at the Albufeira Retail Centre, eagerly awaiting the opportunity to lay their hands on British produce.
Mary Hine, who has been living in the Algarve for three years, was the first shopper through the doors and when questioned on what she thought of the new store, she replied: “This is fantastic”, adding that she had started the queue outside 40 minutes prior to the opening.
The supermarket’s young manager, 22-year-old Sam Gabriel was also pleased as he watched the store fill with eager shoppers.
The new store in Albufeira incorporates sixty-six freezers and fourteen chillers spanning the length of the store, and six aisles of grocery produce plus additional grocery shelving continuing accross the back of the shop and then down the entire length of the other side.
Iceland in Guia has a total of 1,200m2 of shop floor space along with additional space for displaying its latest offers and promotions and houses an in-store butcher where shoppers can order favourites such as fresh pork sausages, bacon and brisket exactly to their liking.
Iceland in Portugal is operated by Overseas Supermarkets, whose chairman Bryn Robertson explained that this store is set to be the first of many.
“We are looking to open four to five new stores in the next three years”, he confided, explaining the Almancil area to be top of their expansion short-list.
As for pricing, Mr. Robertson told The Portugal News that the low prices seen this week at Iceland “should become even lower next year. We are looking to reduce the cost of products and savings we make will defintely be passed on to our customers.”
He added: “We want our customers to keep on coming back, and it’s not by pushing up prices that we will be able to achieve this.”
Overseas started trading in the late 1990’s When Bryn Robertson began importing goods into Tenerife and selling the goods on to bars and restaurants on the island.
In 1996 the company took a huge leap forward when Mr. Robertson purchased an empty warehouse on a small industrial estate just outside the airport in Las Chafiras. The warehouse was to be the start of Overseas Imports entry into the retail market.
Within a year Bryn Robertson had negotiated, secured and entered into a working partnership with Iceland Frozen Foods Plc.
In 1998 the flag ship store in Las Chafiras opened and the foundations of Overseas as a chain of supermarkets had been laid.
In 2006, Overseas commenced trading with the Waitrose group and its stores now regularly stock 1,000 Waitrose lines, many of which are on offer at the Iceland store in Guia.
The company increased like for like sales by over 20 percent in 2008. This growth was almost unprecedented as most companies were starting to struggle as the world was entering a recession. Overseas believe continued growth has been achieved by reacting quickly to the economic climate both in the United Kingdom and Spain. When the value of the pound dropped Overseas dropped their prices and looked to offer their customers even greater value.
Overseas stock around 10,000 products which are all imported direct from the UK.
Brendan de Beer