Domingos Correia: premium is the level where we want to position ourselves

With a fixed address in the Celeirós Industrial Park, in Braga, we went to meet the Grupo Arliz. The person who represents him is Domingos Correia, and it is with him that Villas&Golfe will soon meet. The reputation of being an expert in business is undeniable, but the certainty is consolidated when we enter the office. The cyan blue eyes, which stand out in the heavenly white room, come closer to make introductions.
All around you can see the rolls of projects, wrapped like parchment, and a shelf of books of all types, with diplomas and family photographs to accompany them. It goes without saying about the strategic sofas and extensive tables, capable of closing good deals. Conversation quickly arose, covering the Arliz Group and the six areas that complement it. Between past, present and future, we learn about the projects of a pragmatic man, of few words and many businesses, visionary and self-assured.

Would we be amazed at his favorite hobbies?
I like water sports. I also travel a lot, bringing a lot of ideas and learning with me.

Do you play golf?
I’m starting. I’m taking off the handicap.

How would you describe the Grupo Arliz in terms of its vision and positioning in the market?
The Grupo Arliz is investing, above all, in four areas of activity: real estate development, civil construction, tourism and metalworking. In terms of real estate, it wants to position itself in the luxury market, in specific cities, such as Lisbon and Porto, and islands. In tourism, the focus is on five and four star hotels. In all areas of the business we seek to act ethically and sustainably.

Are we talking about how many brands and how many employees, exactly?
Currently, there are seven brands and 450 employees. By the end of the year the number will rise to 600 employees.

What are the current challenges in the real estate development sector, for a solid group like Arliz?
The challenge is to continue to grow. We are already dispersed in the Lisbon market. At the moment, we are building a building, Conde Redondo, and we are going to start another, in Setúbal. Present in greater Oporto and the Azores, we have projects emerging, although one of the biggest difficulties is licensing in municipal councils, processes that are certainly time-consuming.

Within the civil construction sector, what type of intervention do you develop?
We work mainly in construction, rehabilitation and public works.

Among other projects, it is developing Casal de Paços, Conde Redondo and Oporto Luxury Residences. We talk about opposing projects, with different targets in view. What has been the most challenging?
Casal de Paços and Conde Redondo have been the most challenging. These are premium products, with much greater added value. The target is also different, more aimed at foreign investors. Oporto Luxury Residences is now more standard, a type of project that we have been doing for a long time.

Portugal increasingly consumes luxury, particularly in the housing sector. Do you hope to focus more on the premium aspect in the future?
Yes, more and more. In addition to the country consuming more luxury, premium is the level where we want to position ourselves. In fact, there are a lot of people working on mid-range or lower-middle range products, but there aren’t that many when investing in premium, so they are either afraid or unable to invest in quality.

Tell us about your investment in the hotel sector.
Following the construction, the hotel aspect then appears. It started in 2007, when we were redesigning a hotel for a client and he challenged me to enter the tourism sector. That’s how I got involved. We both created a company, 50/50, and bought the first hotel unit in the Azores. In 2010, we bought another complex in Funchal and, by then, I was already a 70% shareholder in the company. In 2016, I acquired the company 100%, by which time I also had my third hotel in the Azores. We are currently about to open the Santa Clara Monastery hotel, in Vila do Conde; we acquired another project in Funchal and we still have other projects to close. The first five years in the area were difficult, years of losses rather than gains. It was only after 2013 that it began to evolve significantly. Currently, it is a profitable business, hence the ambition to open one hotel per year.

You mentioned the Santa Clara Monastery, a hotel project of the group, grouped in a premium segment, which will soon open its doors. What can you tell us about the complex?
The Santa Clara Monastery has everything to make it one of the best hotels in the North. This five-star hotel is located in Vila do Conde and is a very high-end hotel, with an investment of around twenty million euros. With eighty-seven rooms, it involves a spa, indoor pool and two restaurants, one of which is managed by chef Vítor Matos. There will also be a wine cellar, which will be located on a floor that we discovered had been buried for many years, since the construction of the building, and had never been used. We are talking about a complex that is around six hundred years old.

To adapt to the world of metalworking it is necessary to be at the forefront of new technologies. How does the group guarantee the best projects?
Metalworking is a more recent investment. It still has two years of acquisition and it was a brand that we acquired in an insolvency process, so it belonged to a company that previously worked for the Grupo Arliz. We knew it was a very evolved brand with good equipment. When difficulties arose, we approached each other and decided to acquire the establishment. At the moment, the company is working very well. We are focused on France, because it is a market that has more added value, compared to Portugal. We intend to bet on Switzerland too. There are few companies in Portugal that can guarantee differentiating projects like us. I like to always invest, especially in an area of innovation like metalworking.

Arliz’s domain also includes the insurance area…
The insurance sector is also the one with the least focus on the part of the group, along with the VE brand. The insurance area will continue to grow, but the car park area will only evolve if we merge with another income company. In fact, since we are talking about income, in addition to real estate development we have a company that buys assets and puts them into income. And EV parks may one day have to merge with this company of ours.

What do you have in mind for the future of the Grupo Arliz?
Consolidate the four business areas in which we are focusing most: hotels, civil construction, real estate development and metalworking.

Source: Villas&Golf