The 1,470-chain of Mercadona supermarkets is now Forbes listed. Its president, Juan Roig, is Spain’s fourth richest man and the chain is said to carry a €3.47 billion price tag. Curious, I wondered how the chain would fare now the supermarket chain has been nationalised and is now under ‘public control.’ Will we still have an appetite for Mercadona? My day didn’t get off to a promising start.
Under Madrid control, the entrance to the store’s car park is now accessible by a security barrier for which one needs an online purchased token. A kindly motorist, having decided to shop elsewhere, came to my rescue by offering his token. Car spaces nearest the supermarket’s doors were reserved for staff but street parking is available.
What was to follow gave me much food for thought. Having waited patiently in a queue, uniformed staff enquired if I had a ticket. It appeared necessary to make an appointment to shop. Being my lucky day, I was offered a slot by a customer who now late and having to pick the kids up, offered me her ticket.
Great! I could now shop. Having used the store when privately owned I recall that it was then efficiently managed by about twenty friendly staff. This was no longer the case. Nothing ventured nothing gained I queued for my shopping trolley. First, a little paperwork is to be dealt with. First there was a fee to be paid, a trip to the bank and the production of an ST1R bank receipt in duplicate. I get to keep a copy. Proof of identity was required for which thankfully I had my NIE, Padron and driving licence plus duplicate photocopies.
Finally free to roam the over-staffed aisles I smiled at an attractive lady with two large melons. “This is expensive.” I smiled as I held my cucumber up for her to see.
“Oh yes. They were 85c but are now €3.95. If you want a receipt, it is extra.”
“Nuts,” I replied.
“They are over there.”
“No, I mean they are nuts. How do they justify such an increase in price?”
“Everything has quadrupled in price,” she smiled. “The government bought the store at four times its value. Extending it by 200 metres, they sub-let the car park and built new access toll roads.
There are several sub-offices. Then there is the security screening and the quadrupling of staff. It all adds up you know,” she smiled resignedly. Having made fewer purchases than usual I was to learn that one does not choose a check-out.
A desk operative, one of several, checks your purchases and then directs you to the cash point. Each of the store’s ten checkouts was manned by staff who appeared bored, de-motivated and in one or two cases hostile. Asking why, the teller told me she didn’t like the job but took it on. She got the job after her family promised to support the PSOE Party and because because it was impossible to fire her. A relative had got her the position. Yes, it all makes sense now.
About the Author
Michael Walsh is the author of over 70 published book titles. He has also ghost-written (book edited) over 40 books, novels and biographies for writer clients. He offers professional help for writers: editing of website content, books, novels and marketing content. You write it HE rights it.
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