PMR estimates that in 2011 the grocery market in six Central European (CE) countries was worth nearly €107bn, 2.8% more than the previous year when expressed in local currencies. The increase was generated foremost by the discount stores and supermarket segments, and was driven by the skyrocketing prices of foodstuffs. Schwarz Group, which operates the Lidl and Kaufland chains, is a leading grocery player in the CE region – as revealed in PMR’s most recent report “Grocery retail in Central Europe 2012. Market analysis and development forecasts for 2012-2014”.
The Central European grocery market, which is comprised of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, lost €5.5bn over the last three years as the result of the economic crisis and local currencies weakening against the euro. According to PMR forecasts, this grocery market is to gain €10.5bn by 2014, at constant exchange rates. In this three-year period, the six CE grocery markets will develop at an average annual growth of 3.2%, ranging between 2% to 4% in the different countries. However, as Dominika Kubacka, PMR Retail Analyst and coordinator of the report, adds, there are different reasons behind these increases: high inflation, expansion of retailers, or just the effect of a low historical base.
Large-format retailing progressively dominates CE grocery market
The large-format modern retail segments have gained strength in each Central European country. Hypermarkets, supermarkets and discount stores now control 52% of the CE grocery market versus the 45% recorded three years ago. Further growth is expected in the following three years.
e – estimate
f – forecast
Source: PMR report “Grocery retail in Central Europe 2012. Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia. Market analysis and development forecasts for 2012-2014”, PMR Publications, 2012
The greatest contributor to both past and predicted growth of the grocery market is the discount store segment. Between 2008 and 2011 the segment increased in value twice as much as the combined increase of the hypermarket and supermarket segments. Last year the discount segment recorded the most dynamic development in all the CE countries, as compared to other channels. Its growth is boosted by the rising prices of food as well as continued uncertainty, which prompts customers to look around for cheaper purchasing alternatives. Consumers are rationalising their shopping behaviour however, despite paying more attention to the level of prices, they are not willing to give up on quality. “In addition, in the case of discount stores, there is still room for expansion, even in the most saturated country, Poland, or Hungary, where the ban on retail premises over 300 m2 has been introduced. Not without meaning is the growing popularity and trust in private labels, supported by the strong promotional campaigns of grocery chains” – comments PMR Analyst.
Most discount chains are present in Hungary, where the segment enjoys growing popularity. The strongest is the discount channel in Poland, where the segment leader is also the largest player on the Polish grocery market. The highest densities in the CE discount store segment are observed in Poland and the Czech Republic, followed by Hungary.
According to PMR estimates, there are currently over 4,400 discount stores in Central Europe, i.e., some 48 stores per one million inhabitants. The number is expected to increase this year by nearly 12% year on year, which translates into over 500 more units on the CE market. Store count in Poland and Romania is to grow most, both in nominal and relative terms, whereas in the Czech Republic, growth will scarcely be 3%.
Grocery market leaders are strong international players
While in particular CE countries the share of the top 3 players varies from 19% in Bulgaria to 58% in the Czech Republic, the share of leading retailers in the entire region reached 21.6% last year. In terms of revenues, the largest player on the CE grocery market is Schwarz Group, whose two chains control nearly 9% of the combined CE market value, and run over 1,500 stores in the CE region.
The Germany-based Schwarz Group is a market leader in three CE countries; British Tesco in two of them; whereas Portuguese Jeronimo Martins is the number one player in Poland. Its chain, Biedronka, is also a leader of the Central European discount store segment, albeit operating in only one CE country.
The strongest brand in Central Europe is Tesco, present on four CE markets. What is more, its hypermarkets are the largest chain in the region in terms of revenues. The supermarket channel is also headed up by an international chain – Billa – part of the German Rewe Group.
Domestic players, which achieved significant placement in the top 20 CE grocery retail, are mainly large retail groups that own but above all have control over multiple networks of grocery stores via franchise, cooperative, or other partner systems.
Note: the term Central Europe (CE) refers to a region covering six countries: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.
This press release is based on information contained in the latest PMR report entitled Grocery retail in Central Europe 2012.
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