The opening was scheduled for Thursday, December 15 at 9 a.m. and at that time there were no more free spaces in the parking lot of the new Mercadona store, located in the Taguspark area, in the municipality of Oeiras. Dozens of people do not want to miss the commercial space in the first minutes of life, not least because it is the first of the Spanish brand in the Lisbon district.
In this way, the hypermarket not only serves the residents of Oeiras, but also all residents of neighboring municipalities. For this reason, it is one of the most important commercial openings of the year in the municipality, as it expands the retail offering with a brand that was not present in the region.
NiT spent this Thursday morning in the new store. At the entrance, a self-service coffee machine welcomes customers. The space has about 1900 square meters, which can accommodate all the sections to which the brand has become accustomed to the Portuguese, from butchery to delicatessen, fish, bakery and pastry, fruit and vegetable, dairy department, wine cellar, perfumery care for the home and pets.
At the entrance, in the first corridor, is the ready-to-eat section, for those who only want to buy lunch or dinner. There are several options for prepared dishes.
“In Spain we have more than 1600 supermarkets and we had no ready meals. But when we came to Portugal, we realized that people wanted it and we started implementing it.” says André Silva, communications director of Mercadona in Portugal. There you will find options such as roast chicken, duck rice, eggplant au gratin, pasta carbonara and of course the famous paella.
There are also snacks such as pasties, samosas and other pastries. And also ready-made sushi, salads, burgers and steaks. The latter are designed specifically for customers in the center of the country, as they are made with a whole steak and a mustard-based sauce, unlike those in the north, which have shredded meat and a beer-based sauce. Different consumption habits reflected in each store’s offerings depending on location.
As we walked through the corridors, Mercadona managers explained some of the specifics of the brand, which opened its first store in Portugal in 2019, but has been studying the Portuguese market since 2016. And it continues to do so.
“We have managers for each product category who are always working to capture the day-to-day needs of customers in their environment, to understand how they like to use our items and what could be improved, from packaging to bidding,” reveals Andre Silva.
There were some adjustments that were made once the brand arrived in Portugal. An example of this is dusters. In Spain they are white, but as the Portuguese are used to having them in yellow, they had to change the color. Another example is the liquid yoghurt sold in liter packs in Spain. Around here we prefer the individual bottles. In short: there is a whole code of colors and formats that determine the sale of the product in the different zones.
One of Mercadona’s strengths is its own brands. In terms of food you will find Hacendado; in detergents, Bosque Verde; Deliplus for perfumery and cosmetics; and Compy for pets.
“Our own brands are very recognizable and of high quality,” assures the communications manager.
One of the company’s policies is to always have the suppliers of private label products described on the packaging, as is the case with chocolates made by Imperial or dehydrated apples, produced in Porto by Frueat. To find out where the products come from, all you have to do is look at the back of the label. “We strive for transparency,” says the brand.
Exclusive products and Christmas highlights
In this way, there are products designed only for this region of the country, as is the case with some cheeses. The head of the category, Filipa Marques, explains to NiT: “Here we include some cheeses that are not consumed in the north, because customers prefer softer cheeses. Down here, customers like stronger flavours, so we introduced Nisa, Serpa, we also have a filling with herbs, Alentejo cheeses”.
There are about 200 types of cheese in Mercadona. The list also includes Christmas versions, exclusive to this season, such as Camembert with truffle, honey cheese with almonds, cheese with marmalade filling or cream cheese brie with truffle.
Next door, in the delicatessen area, employees are currently slicing ham. That means customers can taste samples from the different legs to determine which they like best, depending on the fat, and then take the vacuum-packed product with them.
In the yogurt aisle you will also find some special offers, such as a large space dedicated to protein products, which has grown in recent times, vegetable gelatin, already cooked eggs and a dulce de leche that was one of the most requested products from customers – and that came finally in stores this week.
In canned food, natural salmon and chicken stand out. In the drinks department, be sure to try the Torrão liqueur and the beers “A Minha” and “A Tua”, Mercadona’s own brands.
And since we are in the Christmas season, there are some products that are a huge success with customers. One is the bread which is already cinnamon and lemon flavored, ideal for making toast but also a great option for the typical French toast of the season. The brand guarantees that there is great concern for the celiac community and that is why it makes it a point to develop various gluten-free products, from bread and baguettes, but also frozen pizzas, ice cream, beer, etc.
In the bakery and patisserie section you will find other types of regional bread and a patisserie where you can find everything from croissants to Christmas pastries, Berlin buns with different fillings and other cakes, which you can choose from in a self-service regime. At the moment you will find the brand’s sponge cake, but also bolo rei, Delizze and Coclizze bonbons, and peanut nougat, which is at the top of the bestsellers.
And since there is no Christmas without cod, Mercadona has created a special mural for this fish, purposely studied for the Portuguese market. In addition, the fish counter has offers for all tastes, on a bench that attracts the attention of passers-by.
In the field of home care and personal hygiene, the highlights are the perfumes for washing clothes, the body cream with olives and the face cream Sisbela, which was hugely successful in the Spanish market.
Aunt Catia’s choices
At the opening of the store in Oeiras, a face familiar to all Portuguese was present, Tia Cátia. NiT took the opportunity to find out about the favorite products of the chef, who is a true Mercadona fan.
“I really like everything, I always leave the shops with several carts. There are products that are used a lot every day and that I cannot do without,” he tells NiT.
Tia Cátia especially likes bottled and spray olive oil, which is “great to put in salads because it sprays and we end up using less amount.” Pepper mills and fleur de sel are also part of the chef’s choices.
He doesn’t leave out smoked paprika for cooking: “It even gives flavor to a chicken breast that doesn’t taste like anything”. Montage cream, almond drink, 52% rye bread and dried fruit, especially chopped almond, are other highlights in the food basket you take home.
Mercadona closes 2022 with 39 stores in Portugal
The mayor of Oeiras, Isaltino Morais, and the president of the parish council of Barcarena, Bárbara Silva, also attended the opening of the store on Thursday.
“The opening of Mercadona in Tagus Park is proof that there are moments of rejuvenation despite the crisis. This is an investment that contributes to the dynamism of economic activity in the municipality of Oeiras. In addition, the architecture of this commercial space and the tones that bring more beauty to the place are praised,” says Isaltino Morais.
To circulate in space, you can opt for the large or small trolley, which is slightly larger than a basket but has the advantage of being long, designed for the comfort of customers who therefore do not have to constantly bend over. And the best part is that you don’t even need coins to use them.
“We want to be practical, make life easier for customers, make sure they have a comfortable purchase,” says the brand. Partly because of this, there are 17 payment boxes available.
The space has 155 parking spaces, both indoors and outdoors, and two spaces for electric vehicle charging, in line with the company’s commitment to electric mobility. The focus on renewable energy is also felt through the installation of 532 solar panels in the store, with a capacity to produce 200 kW.
For this new supermarket, Mercadona hired about 100 employees who – as usual in the Spanish chain – followed a few months of training in the north of the country. According to the company, with the growth it has registered in Portugal, there are still vacancies available for different stores, which can be consulted on the Employment Portal.
With the opening of this store in Oeiras, Mercadona completes its planned expansion plan for 2022, which includes the opening of ten stores in five new districts: Santarém, Setúbal, Viseu, Leiria and Lisbon, closing the year with a total of 39 stores in our country .
You can visit Mercadona every day, from Monday to Sunday, from 9 am to 9:30 pm.
Click on the gallery to see the new Mercadona space in Oeiras, as well as some of the products that stand out in the Spanish retailer’s offerings in Portugal (including Tia Cátia’s suggestions).