González has called for a greater range of suppliers.
González has called for a greater range of suppliers. / A.G.

“It shouldn’t take the town hall months to award licences”

  • Rosa M. González, President of Benalmádena’s traders association, says that people are now “happier” to spend more on purchases but is demanding more flexibility from the town hall

The president of the Benalmádena traders association, Rosa María González, has called for the diversification of supplies in the town to avoid buyers going to other municipalities in order to make their purchases. González also asked businesses to take care of their shop decorations and to increase their online presence to help commercialise their products on the Internet in order to become more competitive and attract clients. The association also lamented the lack of parking space in Benalmádena as one of the major burdens on its commercial fabric, which they say is currently lacking the names of “big companies.” That scenario could soon change given the planned expansion of the Tivoli World Amusement Park, which will be converted into a huge shopping and leisure complex, a project which the association says “would benefit” businesses in Arroyo de la Miel.

What is your take on the commercial situation in Benalmádena?

We have noticed an upturn in consumption, but we still have a shortage of nice shops and big brands. Sales have increased and restaurants are doing well, which is in line with what is happening in the rest of the province.

What do you put the lack of big brands in Benalmádena down to?

I put it down to the lack of usable space and our location. Studies have been carried out about the market and they have concluded that people don’t stay in Benalmádena because supply is very limited and instead they look to Fuengirola or Malaga to buy what they need. This is where we are falling short.

The lack of parking space is another historic problem.

It is a very serious problem, in Benalmádena Pueblo especially. People can’t find places to park, not when they have to go to the town hall to deal with some paperwork, nor if they want to grab a bite to eat. There are projects planned, but they are all long-term. You can tell it is a problem on the Costa del Sol in general. In summer it is impossible to find somewhere to leave your car. It isn’t such a big issue in Arroyo de la Miel, because of the amusement park’s esplanade and the private parking area provided by Pueblosol, which I think would work much better if they lowered their prices.

- How would you assess the Tivoli expansion plan? Would it affect small businesses?

It wouldn’t be an isolated shopping centre. It would remain part of the centre of Arroyo de la Miel and that would benefit restaurants and businesses in the area. Major labels would sell their products coexist with other shops in the municipality. Another thing is that the shopping centre would be remote, just as it is in Fuengirola.

What are the biggest challenges of the commercial fabric?

We have to diversify supply, improve shop decorations, ensure consistency in aesthetics and improve our set-up. And we have to go digital. I would like all the businesses in Benalmádena to have an online presence. Whoever wants to buy products here should have the opportunity to do it on their computers and phones as well. We have to get our act together on this.

And what about municipal incentives? Do you have express licences like in Torremolinos?

No. The majority of businesses that open here are part of the hotel industry and therefore cannot be part of the express licence system.

What do you ask of the local council then?

Flexibility. The department in charge of opening licences at the local council cannot take months, sometimes years, to accept licence applications. It has to be a smoother procedure.