Luis Amaral started his career with Unilever Portugal after completing his business degree. He was there for five years and then joined automotive giant Nissan. In 1995, Luis was invited to start up a Portuguese retail business—Jerónimo Martins (JM)—in Poland, which was an exciting time for Poland as the country was moving away from communism and was viewed by distributors as a major market, with 40 million people in the region.

As general manager of JM, Luis worked at building up the company until July 2000 when he moved to South America to set up his own business with different partners in private equity, initiating fund activities in Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina. In 2003, Luis set up a team to buy Eurocash from Jerónimo Martins and returned to Poland where, as the Eurocash owner, he turned the company around.

At a time when retailers expected Polish shoppers to start emulating their wealthier western neighbours, Luis took a different strategy to the business. The market was being flooded with massive retailers like Tesco and Carrefour, building huge big-box formats in the country’s largest towns and cities. However, Eurocash was focused on its own approach. “The most important thing is that we have a clear strategy. Everyone recognises that Eurocash is a distribution company that has a very clear strategy, which makes it a lot easier in our communication with other people because the strategy dictates everything else.