If you live in or near Huelva, in the far western part of Andalucia, or in eastern Portugal, especially the Algarve, you’ll be interested to hear about a huge new shopping and leisure complex in the area.
Carrefour Property, the French-owned megalyth billed as “Europe’s leading commercial real estate company”, is building a massive new shopping centre, Holea, on the Ronda Exterior (exterior ring-road) of Huelva, to be completed by autumn next year. So far 35% built, it will be over 50,000 m2, with a budget of 100 million euros. There will be space for nearly 100 shops in the two-storey development, up from the 17 now, and seven million visitors are expected each year, with nearly 800 more parking spaces being added.
The shops which will be in the finalised Holea will include: H&M, Primark, Toys R Us, Claire’s Accessories, Sport Zone and Adidas. It will also have a 10-screen cinema with the latest technology, possibly 4D, as well as a food zone with Burger King, 100 Montaditos and a self-serve WOK restaurant. This is in addition to a huge 11,000m2 Carrefour Planet hypermarket – Carrefour is Europe’s biggest retailer, and the world’s second-biggest, with stores in 32 countries.
Primark already has stores on the outskirts (boom boom) of Jerez and Algeciras, with a city-centre location marked out for Seville. Rumours in the Andalucian capital are that local fashion retailers are putting a strong case against the Irish budget chain to the Ayuntamiento, for fear of the impact such low-priced clothes and home goods will have on their own businesses. Much-needed taxes from an Irish company and cheap clothes for the residents, in exchange for yet more pain for already beleaguered Seville’s smaller stores? We shall see.
Going back to Huelva, the good news there for the surrounding workforce is that so far the Holea project has created 900 much-needed jobs, in the current construction phase, with a total of between 3000 and 3500 expected in total.
Spain is going through what England did 15 years ago, when supermarkets sprung up on the edges of towns and cities, drawing the custom away from small local stores in the town centre, to convenient buy-everything-at-once monsters with free parking and snack stops. The internationals still wield financial clout, even in these tought times, and are monsters which little family-owned shops just can’t compete with. Perhaps there’s room for all of them, though I’m not sure.
What do you think – do you prefer to park once and do all your shopping – clothes, food, household goods; or do you like to walk around the centre of the town or city where you live, visiting the various stores to find what you need? Do you hate big companies like Carrefour, or do you see them as a necessary evil?