Sonae’s food retail stores become more environmentally friendly

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has signed a EUR 55 million loan with SONAE MC to finance the company’s investments aimed at reducing the environmental impact of its food retail business. With the support of this agreement, SONAE MC – market leader in grocery retailing in Portugal (which owns the Continente, Continente Modelo and Continente Bom Dia stores) – will install new technologies that will enhance its environmental sustainability. 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.

EIB Vice-President Emma Navarro and SONAE MC’s Chief Financial Officer Rui Almeida signed the agreement today 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 (this calculation is based on the EIB methodology).

At the signing ceremony in Matosinhos, EIB Vice-President Emma Navarro stressed that “This project is a very good example of our priorities in Portugal: 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.”

European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas said: "This new Juncker Plan agreement shows that reaching our 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."

Rui Almeida, CFO of Sonae MC, stated: “This financial investment represents an important contribution to the realisation of Sonae MC’s proactive sustainability policy, reflecting our concerns in an area that constitutes a strategic pillar of our 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 EUR 110 million, to be spread between July 2018 and June 2022.

This financing is also important for Sonae MC because it enables the diversification of its funding sources through the provision of access to loans with longer maturities (maximum 12 years) at competitive costs.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union owned by its Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy objectives.

The Investment Plan for Europe, known as the Juncker Plan, is one of the European Commission’s top priorities. It focuses on boosting investment to generate jobs and growth by making smarter use of financial resources, removing obstacles to investment, and providing visibility and technical assistance to investment projects.

The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) is the main pillar of the Juncker Plan and provides first loss guarantees, enabling the EIB to invest in more projects of a type that often come with greater risks. EFSI has already yielded tangible results. The projects and agreements approved for financing under EFSI are expected to mobilize more than EUR 371 billion in investment, including EUR 8.8 billion in Portugal, and support 856,000 SMEs in the 28 Member States.

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