© Anna Popiołek / wyborcza.biz

Alma Supermarket Chain On The Brink Of Collapse

Upmarket supermarket chain Alma are fighting to stave off liquidation having gone into administration earlier this month.

Problems at the Polish owned supermarket chain first became apparent back in August, when shelves at many of their stores started to look mysteriously empty. As time wore on the situation worsened, making it clear that suppliers had stopped delivering to the supermarket due to unpaid invoices.

At the time of writing, many Alma stores are so empty they are reminiscent of Poland's communist era supermarkets. Virtually all fresh and everyday goods have run out, prompting the supermarket's staff to line the shelves with more exotic items that shoppers wouldn't regularly purchase. 

In a bid to avoid complete collapse, Alma have had to undergo a huge restructuring plan that involves making around 1,300 staff redundant and selling off all its unprofitable stores. That still might not be enough for Alma to agree a deal with its creditors however, leaving the future of the supermarket chain heavily in doubt.

The supermarket's shares were valued at as little as 2,85 zł earlier this week, a huge fall from their peak value of 40zl. 

Alma have three stores in Wroclaw, one of which is in Bielany and a further two inside city centre shopping centres Renoma and Arkady (which are just 500m apart).

There are numerous theories as to why Alma has been struggling of late. Some observers have pointed to the supermarket's poor approach to social media as one possible reason. Alma have just over 33,000 fans on Facebook, while Lidl enjoy a following of almost one million. 

In recent years more and more Poles have also turned to discount supermarkets such as Kaufland, Lidl and Biedronka, eating into Alma's profits. A recent study found that 26% of food purchases in Poland are made in discount stores

Biedronka in particular has undergone huge changes in recent years. The budget supermarket used to be looked down upon and branded as cheap and nasty, but after opening new stores, allowing customers to pay by card and extending its product range, that negative stigma has all but disappeared.

The cost of shopping at Alma could well be another factor in the supermarket's downfall. Price comparison website dlahandlu.pl, which compares the cost of a shop of weekly essentials and staples, currently indicates Alma to be Wroclaw's most expensive supermarket (the survey doesn't include EPI Market). The only chain shops with higher prices are local convenience stores such as Fresh Market, Lewiatan and Carrefour Express.

About Gregor Gowans

Gregor Gowans
The founder and editor of Wroclaw Uncut, Gregor has been running the website since its inception in 2012. A Wroclawian for almost 10 years, Gregor writes on a wide variety of topics including, food & drink, nightlife, local news and politics. He is also a regular guest on Radio Ram's Sunday lunch programme.