German retailers sell to the world
This whopping sum is around three-and-a-half times more than leading grocer Edeka achieves on its home market.
German retailers began their international expansion in the late 1960's and have been gaining momentum ever since. The principal pioneers were Metro Cash & Carry and hard discounters Aldi and Lidl. But who else is conquering the world from Frisco to Sydney?
The leader of the pack, accounting for nearly a third of all German retailer sales abroad, is Schwarz Group. The private company's Lidl and Kaufland subsidiaries posted revenues of around €61bn in 26 European countries outside the borders of Germany.
Schwarz Group may not be quite so exotic yet as Metro Cash & Carry whose empire stretches far into Asia. But Lidl's start in the US last month, Kaufland's plans to enter Australia shortly, and a new website in China reveal the scope of corporate global ambition.
Ranked by the number of retailers actively involved in the country concerned, the list changes to Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Croatia, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Rumania.
A question of perspective
The colossal revenues achieved by German retailers abroad translate to some significant stakes in smaller neighbouring countries. Rewe Group subsidiary Billa and Aldi South already have a 29-per-cent viz. 15.2-per-cent market share in Austria, while Lidl/Kaufland and Rewe hold 27.2 per cent and 14.3 per cent, respectively, in the Czech Republic.
Nice to meet you, again
Meanwhile, German retailers look set to grow their global reach. Aldi South is about to start in Italy and recently went online in The People's Republic of China. Lidl intends to invest €1bn per annum in the United States, which has forced arch-rival Aldi USA into expansion overdrive. Both Schwarz Group and Aldi South are destined soon to meet Down Under.
This phenomenon, of course, also provides chances. Should, for instance, Tesco exit Eastern Europe, as many pundits have long speculated, all or part of the store base could be used to boost organic expansion.
German retail influence in Asia remains relatively light. The only player of significance with active operations there as per the end of last year was Metro Group, while grocers have given this mighty continent a very wide berth.
Strangely, given the huge populations and exciting growth potential involved, German retailers have been happy to leave Latin America and Africa to their French and US competitors to date. Presumably they were discouraged by partially high country risks, including corruption. It cannot be the distance, otherwise neither Schwarz Group or Aldi would be in Australia today.
So perhaps it won't be so very long before we have an Aldi in South Africa, a Lidl in Mexico or a Metro Cash & Carry in Kenya?
N.B. Readers are referred to an excellent interactive chart (paywall), compiled by online editors Jörn Ratering & Marco Kitzmann, showing the annual sales and national market shares of eleven German retailers in 41 countries worldwide.
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