Wholesale & Retail in Southeast Europe

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The ranking of the top 20 largest wholesale and retail companies in SEE was clearly dominated by 11 Romania-based chains. All large Western European chains were represented with Germany’s Metro Group having three entries – its Romanian and Croatian Cash&Carry chains, as well as its Romanian retail chain Real,- Hypermarket.

However, the ranking was headed by one of the two Slovenian representatives – Mercator, which ended 2008 with total revenue of 1.84 billion euro and a net profit of 32.1 million euro. Outside Slovenia, Mercator is present in Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia. The company entered Bulgaria in 2009 and plans to expand to Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo.

The aggregate revenue of the top 20 whole sale and retail companies was 13.4 billion euro in 2008, up from 11.8 billion euro in 2007.


SEE Industry at a Glance represents a series of sub-rankings of the 20 biggest cnompanies by total revenue within the top five industries in SEE TOP 100: Petroleum/Natural Gas, Electricity,Wholesale/Retail, Telecommunications and Metals. In order to make the ranking more comprehensive, we have looked beyond the 100 companies in our flagship ranking and expanded the scope to the entire pool of over 1,000 enterprises.

Company name Country Total revenue
Total revenue
Poslovni Sisitem Mercator d.d. Slovenia 1,839.24 1,736.63 32.14 35.42
Konzum d.d. Croatia 1,741.78 1,485.96 59.19 40.65
Metro Cash and Carry SRL* Romania 1,490.00 1,590.00 N/A N/A
Carrefour Romania SA Romania 972.82 738.69 18.59 22.82
Selgros Cash& Carry SRL Romania 871.19 812.71 36.08 33.58
Kaufland Romania SC Romania 726.98 598.49 3.44 14.57
real,- Hypermarket Romania SRL Romania 689.06 385.25 -51.18 -43.86
Engrotus d.d. Slovenia 673.93 599.57 8.07 18.34
Mediplus Exim SRL Romania 495.21 432.39 2.85 6.53
10 Arabesque SRL Romania 457.12 387.12 -1.56 7.60
11 Agrokor-Trgovina d.d. Croatia 434.67 298.09 7.99 5.17
12 K and K Electronics OOD Bulgaria 423.95 379.27 18.34 13.48
13 Romania Hypermarche SA Romania 372.23 376.43 18.19 11.63
14 Mercator - H d.o.o. Croatia 356.56 293.87 3.89 0.60
15 Metro Cash & Carry d.o.o. Croatia 352.96 327.97 9.18 7.49
16 Pevec Zagreb d.o.o. Croatia 317.73 272.27 3.01 10.68
17 M-Rodic DOO* Serbia 303.64 267.04 9.35 4.75
18 Praktiker (Romania) SRL Romania 299.49 259.56 8.01 13.33
19 Billa Romania SRL Romania 299.13 297.72 9.54 9.73
20 Procter & Gamble Distribution SRL Romania 296.65 309.19 5.08 3.00

in millions of euro
(*) denotes net sales revenue

Retail trading is one of the fastest growing industries in Southeastern Europe (SEE).

The growth of the sector strongly depends on the purchasing power of the population. While the purchasing power of the customers in SEE is still lower than in Western Europe, thushindering big investors from entering the market, at the same time it indicates good possibilities for future development.

Albania, Serbia and Macedonia all reported very high levels of Purchasing Power Standard(PPS) in 2008, stemming from their low prices of consumer goods and services, according to data from the EU statistics office Eurostat.

PPS in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria and Slovenia is around the EU-27 average, while the purchasing power of Montenegrin customers is almost twice lower than this average.

Purchasing power parities (PPPs) 2006-2008

Country 2006 2007* 2008 n
U-27 1 1.00 1.00
Switzerland 11.1284 11.01 11.24
Denmark 10.3112 10.35 10.63
Norway 10.6712 10.89 11.21
Albania 51.1501 52.65 53.71
Serbia 34.3349 37.32 40.58
FYR Macedonia 21.9373 22.29 23.85
Croatia 4.67477 4.66 4.95
Romania 1.76183 1.83 2.04
Bosnia and Herzegovina 0.877764 0.89 0.95
Bulgaria 0.742858 0.79 0.86
Slovenia 0.745452 0.77 0.81

* - preliminary data
n - express data
Source: Eurostat, New Cronos Database 20.07.2009

Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) is an indicator, which measures ratios of prices, expressed in national currencies and are used to convert the values of indicators to a common currency,called Purchasing Power Standard (PPS), which equalises the purchasing power of different national currencies and thus allows meaningful comparison.

Another indicator, measuring the development of retail industry, is the price level of consumer goods and services. Price levels varied widely across Europe in 2008: Danish consumer prices were 41% higher than the EU-27 average, while in Macedonia prices were 53% lower. Bulgaria, with retail prices 49% lower than the EU-27 average, was the cheapest country to go shopping in out of the 27 countries of the EU last year.

Comparative price levels of final consumption by private households in SEEincluding indirect taxes

  2006 2007 2008
European Union (27 countries) 100 100 100
Slovenia 76.8 77.8 83
Croatia 69.8 70.1 74.7
Turkey 66.3 71.5 72.8
Romania 57.1 61.5 62.1
Bulgaria 44.6 46.5 51
Macedonia 43.3 43.3 46.7

The level of concentration and the presence of investors with large store formats are indicative of the level of market development. Slovenia holds the leading position among the SEE countries in terms of concentration, with five chains controlling a combined 80% share of the country’s market.

Croatia and Serbia, with concentration rates of some 50% and 40% of their retail markets, respectively, come second and third. Market concentration is smallest in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Moldova and Kosovo, where small corner shops, kiosks and open-air markets prevail.

According to a survey conducted by German-based global market research company GfK, supermarkets account for about 30% of all retail sales in Croatia, 23% in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and 18-19% in Serbia and Bulgaria. The process of consolidation of the retail market in SEE is still underway.

Companies based in the countries of Southeastern Europe dominate the retail markets of these countries. Regional majors such as Slovenia’s Mercator, Croatia’s Agrokor and Serbia’s Delta Holding are well aware of the buying habits and preferences of SEE customers and invest expansively on the SEE retail market.

Investor Home country Investment destinations in SEE
Mercator Slovenia Bulgaria, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia andHerzegovina, Albania (to be opened in end-2009)
Agrocor Croatia Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia
Delta Holding Serbia Serbia, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Dm Drogeriemarkt Serbia Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia,Serbia
Spar International The Netherlands Slovenia, Romania, Serbia, Croatia
Metro Group Germany Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia
Lidl & Schwarz Germany Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia
CBA Hungary Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Croatia
K and K Electronics OOD Bulgaria Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Macedonia
Tengelmann Germany Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia
Intermarche France Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania
REWE Austria Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania
Tus Slovenia Slovenia, Macedonia
Veropoulos Greece Serbia, Macedonia
Carrefour France Romania, Bulgaria
Baumax Austria Romania, Bulgaria
Merkur Slovenia Slovenia, Serbia
Maxima LT Lithuania Bulgaria, Romania
Rodic Serbia Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina
E.Lecrerc France Slovenia
Aldi Germany Slovenia
Ramstore Turkey Macedonia

The fast development of the SEE retail market is reflected by the Global Retail Development Index (GRDI), an indicator compiled yearly by U.S. consultancy A.T. Kearney. The GRDI evaluates the development potential of the retail industries of 30 selected emerging countries. The GRDI 2009 ranking includes four countries from Southeastern Europe, of which only Slovenia is among the top 10 of the 30 emerging economies.

Global Retail Development Index (GRDI) in 2009

Country Positionin
the ranking
Country Risk
in rank
Slovenia 9 100.00 64.00 12.00 33.00 52.00 14.00
Bulgaria 21 44.00 41.00 48.00 54.00 47.00 -5.00
Romania 23 49.00 41.00 33.00 58.00 46.00 -1.00
Croatia 24 54.00 58.00 13.00 46.00 43.00 N/A

SWOT Analysis of the Wholesale and Retail Market in SEE

Strengths Weaknesses
* Customers with potential for rising incomes * High levels of corruption and bureaucracy
* Low labour costs * Fragmented markets, a low level ofconcentration (except Slovenia), a good numberof small stores and preferences for shopping inopen-air markets
* SEE is an attractive tourist destination (Croatia,Montenegro and Bulgaria) * Concentration of big stores around big cities(Macedonia, BiH, Croatia)
* A good perspective for the HORECA segment  
Opportunities Threats
* SEE can reap economic benefits from lying atthe crossroads of Western Europe, the MiddleEast and the Mediterranean * Global economic crisis
* EU membership (Slovenia, Bulgaria andRomania) and candidate- members (Macedoniaand Croatia) * Rising unemployment
* Development of new outlet formats –entertainment, electronics and office retailing,DIY (do-it-yourself), and other specialisednetworks * Shortage of big land plots for the constructionof large outlets, distribution centres andwarehouses
* Development of private labels and own brands * Skilled labour force leaving SEE
* Mergers and acquisitions (both regional andforeign investors) * Underdeveloped infrastructure
* Offering of franchising and online retail trade  

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