Saturday, 5 December 2009

Trust Busting

Remember Kinsey Gin - brewed from girders in Motherwell, Scotland (that well known centre of gin distilling) and retailing in Freitas, Braga & Braga's supermercado at an eye-catching €4.72 (about £4.30/$7.05 at tonight's exchange rates) a bottle?

Well imagine our dismay to go into Bragas' minimercado (sub-branch in Fazenda das Lajes) to find the price had escalated somewhat:-

I knew it was too good to be true. I'd been convinced all along €4.72 was due to one of Braga's girls (or boys - there's at least one) getting the bar code wrong and the price was really €7.42 (or even €14.72).

Imagine our surprise, then, to go into Boaventura Ramos (BV's as we call it) ...


... to find (a) Kinsey Gin on sale; and (b) at the suspiciously similar price of €6.98. My first thought was Senhor BV had discovered this cheap Scottish gin and decided to knock it out at that price, then Senhor Braga had wandered in on a fact finding mission and immediately jacked up his retail price to a similar level in response.

Then imagine our further surprise (just how much surprise can you take in one day?) when the talão (till receipt) handed to us at the checkout of BV's was headed Freitas, Braga & Braga - it seems BV's has been taken over by Bragas'. So, with gin prices being hiked by 50% overnight, if a crack squad from the Monopolies and Mergers Commission is not on its way to Flores, bouncing over the waves in a Zodiac under cover of dark, black turtle-necked Milk Tray ad-style, then - er, well, perhaps they could get their secretaries to book them a flight on SATA Air Açores. When it's convenient ...

(Quick digression but we had to think whether the turtle-neck chap in the Zodiac was Milk Tray or Black Magic. What was the BM ad? "Who knows the secret of the Black Magic box?" rings a bell)


Anyway, the last bastion of competitive retailing left on the island is Arlindo, owner of the Miniflor minimercados in Santa Cruz and Ponta Delgada and the Superflor supermercado in Fazenda (pictured above). He's still knocking Malaquias Branco  white wine out at €0.97/litre. In a possible sign of things to come, Bragas' discontinued MB a couple of months ago.

The future's bleak - the future's Braga.   

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