Automercado Playas del Coco

Q COSTA RICA  – The arrival of large numbers of tourists in Guanacaste is one of the factors supermarket chains have been increasing their presence in the province.

It was not long ago that supermarkets like Automercado, Supercrompro and Megasuper were not found in Guanacaste. However, the constant flow of tourists to the Pacific north province has changed that.

With the expansion of the Cañas-Liberia route, Walmart announced the building of a new store in Liberia, in addition to the chain’s 13 Palí and 4 Maxi Palí stores. The store will be added to a list of more than 50 supermarkets that Walmart maintain operations in different areas of the country.

“For the company,” said Mariela Pacheco, corporate affairs coordinator, “it is important to value all the communities, which can benefit the national consumer with our commercial proposal.”

The Liberia site will be located 100 meters north of the El Sitio hotel, which would comprise about 5,000 square meters and generate 90 direct jobs, Liberia’s mayor Julio Viales told La Nacion in January.

Megasuper, with seven stores, has been expanding rapidly in the province, since April 2015 opening five stores in the province. The surpermarket chain had been concentrating mainly in the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM).

Kenneth Arrieta., vice president of Corporacion Megasuper said the company is responding to the needs of residents with the building of new houses bording big hotel developments.

Automercado pales in comparison to the others, with only 2 stores in Guanacaste in addition to the ten in San Jose, four in Heredia, two in Alajuela and one in Puntarenas (Herradura).

The chain opened its first store the province in 2007, in Playas del Coco, followed up a year later with the Tamarindo store. Since then the chain has not expanded, though the company says it does not close the possibility of opening a third supermarket in the province.

“We still believe there is room with enough concentration to open but we have prioritized Greater Metropolitan Aarea (GAM). At some point I think we are going to change that and open another (store) over there,” said Diego Alonso, vice president of business for the Automercado business group.

The company has detected that in the province there are a significant number of people who match its profile of target audience, among them, foreigners who live in the country by seasons.

Gessa, however, is the king of the land with a total of 24 supermarkets: 23 Supercompro and 1 Peri(mercado) in Guanacaste.

Walter Wesphal, general manager of Gessa, “… explained that the steady stream of tourists captured the attention of chain stores, but he stressed that tourist areas are already showing signs of saturation. The business group is also operating a supermarket with the Peri format in Liberia and now plans to expand its number of branches but in areas with low concentration of competitors.”

How do they choose location?

Population growth, socioeconomic characteristics of the population and access to basic services such as water and electricity are aspects considered by the firms when choosing a site.

The general manager of Gessa indicated that they are looking for locations with high vehicular traffic, with high visibility, high population density and little competition.

In the case Megasuper, it mainly takes into account the size of the local population, the competition in the area, access roads and the supply logistics.

Sources: Elfinancierocr.com; Nacion.com; Centralamericandata.com


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