FOLLOWING the introduction of a new Commerce Law which came into being at the start of the year, the Balearic government confirmed yesterday that it was starting to receive applications to open up large hypermarkets and commercial centres in the Islands.

Francesca Vives, regional Minister for Commerce, Industry and Energy reported yesterday that several business development applications were already in the pipeline but the Balearic government had not been able to process them as they had been made at a time when policy was to ban further expansion.

She said that the new EU-driven Commerce Law seeks to derestrict the size of trading outlets right across the 27 member states and will force the Balearic governmetn to lift the moratorium currently in place on large supermarket, hypermarket and department store construction.

The Minister said that an official bulletin concerning the derestriction will be published by the end of the first quarter of the year but that current news included an application by supermarket chain Mercadona to extend their business to Inca and Marratxi.

According to Vives, the vast majority of applications and requests for further information had come from already-established “big brand” companies mostly in the food and clothing sector. However, she said, rather than their wanting to erect large new commercial centres, the requests related largely to the extension or refurbishment of premises which were already operating.

Commerce director Pere Trias who was accompanying Vives yesterday, said that much of the paperwork paving the way for commercial development in the islands could be processed within a month of the arrival of the application.