Speaking to The Portugal News shortly after the low-key inauguration of the store, beaming company admininstrator Paulo Apolónia explained that its largest store yet has employed 140 people, with up to 20 more set to join the company ranks at the height of summer.
“As you can see, we don’t want people having to wait at check-out counters or even wait for help at our information desk. Several staff operate sections such as the bakery or the butchery, where products can be prepared in accordance with any customer’s particular liking”, Mr Apolónia explained as a steady stream of shoppers entered the store for the first time, pausing to absorb the unfamiliar surroundings before heading off to fill their baskets or trolleys.
One supplier commented on the lighting which helped to make even the smallest product labelling entirely legible. Mr Apolónia revealed that the lighting is the result of special LED lighting which has been fitted, and while it came at a cost, he believes it will reinforce the store’s ideal of ensuring an enjoyable shopping experience.
There is no sign of a tin roof or steel beams from which promotional banners are hung. Instead, shoppers are greeted by a high-white ceiling, adding to the supermarket’s sense of spaciousness.
The aisles in the store also appear to be wider, allowing for that conversation between two shoppers to continue without fellow customers having to interrupt or change their course of direction as a result of an impromptu social gathering.
The wine section dominates upon entering the store, and is in keeping with Apolónia’s backing of local produce and carefully selected international brands.
Shoppers who visit the store this weekend will also be welcomed by a series of promotions on some of their 25,000 national and international products to celebrate the opening.
Questioned about whether the amount of supermarkets which have opened in the Lagoa area in recent years could lead to saturation, Mr Apolónia said their research indicated that the store will only bring added value to the region and that there was scope for an Apolónia supermarket.
He described the store’s location as “perfect” and revealed that as a family-run business, they were not overly concerned how long it took to reach break-even point. “It doesn’t really matter that much if it takes three, four or five years”, he said.
The operating hours of the store are from 8am to 9pm, with the opening hours 30 minutes earlier than most stores in the vicinity. Apolónia have however admitted that it would consider changing the timetable, and would for example stay open later if they discovered this is what shoppers wanted.
Workers at the store, who always seemed to be within eye-shot, told The Portugal News that they are armed with a pen and a notebook at all times in the event of a shopper not finding a product. The “missing” product will then be logged to study whether or not the store should stock the respective item.
After 32 years of servicing the Algarve, Paulo Apolónia also told The Portugal News that they are currently negotiating the terms to open a new store in Lagos.
No date has yet been set, as the company is still studying location possibilities, but said a fourth store would open before too long.