The European Investment Bank (EIB) is providing €55 million to Portuguese company Sonae MC for its food retail stores, which comprise a chain of hypermarkets and supermarkets, the European Commission said on January 22, noting that EIB financing will make the company’s stores more energy efficient while promoting the use of renewables.
European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas said that this new Juncker Plan agreement shows that reaching the ambitious EU-wide energy transition and climate action goals also means creating new jobs for people. “This is a project that we can be proud of, and I’m very glad that the EU, via the Juncker Plan, can be part of it,” he said. The agreement is expected to support the creation of more than 1,200 jobs during the implementation phase.
The agreement signed between Sonae MC and the EIB will allow the grocery retailer to install new technologies that will enhance its environmental sustainability. Sonae MC is the market leader in grocery retailing in Portugal, which owns the Continente, Continente Modelo and Continente Bom Dia stores.
The EIB loan will contribute to the renovation of the stores’ technical systems through the introduction of more efficient energy equipment, new electricity generation and waste management technologies, the Commission said.
EIB Vice-President Emma Navarro and SONAE MC’s Chief Financial Officer Rui Almeida signed the agreement on January 22 in Matosinhos, Oporto. This EIB financing was made possible by the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).
EFSI is the central pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe, known as the “Juncker Plan” and enables the EIB Group to expand its capacity for financing investment projects with high added value that – as is the case in this agreement – promote efficient use of resources, social and territorial cohesion and job creation. In particular, the project will require more than 1,200 people to be hired during the implementation phase.
At the signing ceremony in Matosinhos, Navarro hailed the project as a very good example of EIB’s priorities in Portugal, namely investing in innovation to support climate action and foster cohesion, employment and economic growth. “The agreement signed today will have a strong positive environmental impact and make an important contribution to combating climate change by reducing energy consumption and enabling the use of renewables,” Navarro said.
For his part, Almeida said this financial investment represents an important contribution to the realisation of Sonae MC’s proactive sustainability policy, reflecting the company’s concerns in an area that constitutes a strategic pillar of Sonae’s business. Strongly innovation-based, this project will consolidate Sonae MC’s leading position on the ecology front, boosting our contribution to a sustainable global environmental footprint, on the road to a decarbonised economy and zero waste.”
The modernisation of Sonae MC’s food retail stores will enable the reduction of electricity consumption by 10% through the installation of more efficient equipment and energy monitoring and management technologies. Refrigeration systems will be renovated, contributing to the efficient use of energy and reducing the environmental impact of greenhouse gases. Water consumption will also decrease thanks to the installation of new water management systems. In addition, stores will meet around 8% of their electricity needs by using renewable energy sources. Waste-related investments will make it possible to recycle and recover up to 24% of total food waste generated.
The project will contribute to the development of the electric vehicles (EV) market through the installation of around 680 EV charging points in the parking areas of the stores, improving the customer experience for more environmentally aware clients. The amount of eligible investment in this project is €110 million, to be spread between July 2018 and June 2022.