Alcampo, the Spanish retail group owned by Auchan of France, has issued a damning statement accusing Spanish bureaucracy of delaying the opening of 15 new hypermarkets.
The chain said that plans for the new stores had been postponed indefinitely because of a failure to obtain the official construction licences. The company has invested some €540 million in attempting to obtain these licences, money which is now lost. The total investment in the 15 new stores would have been around €1.35 billion.
Just three new hypermarkets under the Alcampo fascia will now open their doors between now and 2005, two next year (in Asturias and Alicante) and one in 2005 (in Murcia).
Patrick Coignard, director general of Alcampo in Spain, said that the authorities in many of Spain's autonomous communities had been responsible for the delays, refusing to issue the construction permits because of fears about environmental damage or the erosion of local business, among other complaints.
Last week also saw the opening in Madrid of the Auchan group's biggest logistics centre. The €27 million site covers 56,000 square metres and has room for 65,000 pallets.
Alcampo operates 43 hypermarkets in 13 autonomous communities.