Staff Reporter
LOCAL Spanish traders spoke openly in Palma yesterday, about their satisfaction with the victory they would seem to have won in “the war against commercial terrorism” waged by the large hypermarkets.

Small to medium-sized businesses claim that local town councils are working hand in hand with the giant stores to “allow them to develop quite freely for the benefit of multi-national companies”.

Pere Ferrer, president of PIMECO (a small and medium-sized business association) was speaking at the opening of the National Congress of Local Market Traders, held yesterday at Banca March in Palma, and which was attended by market traders from throughout Spain. The theme for the day was “Market innovation”.

In his opening speech, Ferrer defended services which are provided to the public by local traders. “Markets offer an unbeatable integrity, both in terms of vendor to customer relations and the quality of the product on sale. This contrasts sharply with the detached approach of hypermarket management” he ventured.

Ferrer explained that the aims of the congress included identifying and encouraging trading innovation in local markets, and to make operators and local government alike, aware of the necessity to secure the survival of this traditional practice.

Marina Sans, deputy for Health and Consumer affairs at Palma City Council, said she believed that local markets are fully immersed in the rich tapestry of urban life and form an integral part of people's daily experiences. Sans announced that the City Council is shortly to open nurseries for the users of local markets in Palma.

Commerce director, Francesc Tutzó, explained that local government is not completely aware of the problems affecting the small to medium-sized business sector and in that regard, he said, “the Administration is open to suggestions that might emerge from meetings and debates, such as this Congress, to further the interests and improvement of local markets, so that a service of the highest quality can be offered to the user”.

The Congress, organised by the Federation of Permanent Markets on Majorca and the Benicarló Forum, was attended by various experts who analysed the function of local government in supporting innovations in the trading practices of such markets. Their contribution was illustrated with some examples of innovations developed in Spanish markets, such as the Olivar market in Palma, in Aranguez, in Valencia and La Ribera (in Bilbao).

Alejandro Goñi, explained that the forum had been set up because of the necessity to carry out in-depth research into the de-restriction of opening hours and to create a debating platform for dealing with the sector's problems.

At first, the project had “got off the ground” as a “meeting point” between four small to medium-sized business management organisations (pymes) of the Balearics, Murcia, Catalonia and Castellón. Now, however, it is considered that the Forum has become a representative voice of small, independent companies which are not affiliated to the large management organisations.

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