April 17, 2019

Europe's Top 50 retail stars

Winner of the trophy (photo: Annette Shaff_Shutterstock)
Annette Shaff_Shutterstock
Who won the European retail cup in 2018?
If this were football, Schwarz Group would be FC Barcelona, Real Madrid or ManUnited. The owner of German discounters Lidl and Kaufland has again won the European retail cup, as compiled by Frankfurt-based analyst platform LZ Retailytics, with whopping annual gross sales of €113bn in 2018.

French giant Carrefour is still runner-up, but has continued to lose ground to Aldi. UK grocer Tesco, supercharged by the purchase of leading local wholesaler Booker, stays number four.

German supermarket giants Edeka and Rewe thrive in fifth viz. sixth place. With the exception of Metro, whose sales were burdened by currency rates in Mother Russia, all eight German players in the Top 50 league have continued to grow, with five of them among the Top 10.

In an industry that has become, for better or worse, a game of large numbers, this isn't particularly remarkable. Germany is, after all, the biggest market in western Europe. So were there no surprises in all this sexy trade data?

Well, Top-50 sales now total a mind-boggling €1.2 trillion and grew by an average of 2.6 per cent last year — doubtless at the expense of smaller rivals. Despite the fact that Europe covers many different countries and jurisdictions in and outside the EU, its Top 10 retailers now account for more than a third of the whole market (35.2 per cent).

Obviously currency fluctuations distort some of the figures, especially for British, Russian, Swedish and Swiss retailers. But a clear picture emerges as to the winners and losers in European retailing.

Discounters and co-ops thrive

An Aldi North store in Belgium (photo: Aldi North)
Aldi North
European success machine: An Aldi store in Belgium
The big German discounters Schwarz Group (+6.3 per cent) and Aldi North & South (+6 per cent) obviously continue to expand merrily across the continent.

Also, French retailer co-operatives Leclerc (+1.5 per cent), Intermarché (2.9 per cent) and Système U (+2.3 per cent) have proved once again that they can beat big, publicly-quoted multiples Auchan (-2.4 per cent), Carrefour (-1.3 per cent) and Casino (+1.3 per cent). With no shareholder dividends or remuneration committees to worry about, independents have a strong sense of customer service and, in the case of Leclerc and Intermarché, aggressive prices. This is obviously a winning combination.

A similar phenomenon is found in Italy where the market-leading consumer co-operative Coop Italia (+2 per cent) and Bologna-based retailer co-operative Conad (+3.2 per cent) beat Auchan Italia (-3 per cent), for instance, hands down.

Hooray for the local heroes

Biedronka (photo: Tomasz Bidermann_Shutterstock)
Tomasz Bidermann_Shutterstock
Biedronka: The Polish discount subsidiary of Portuguese retailer Jerónimo Martins has become a genuine local hero
It's also good to see that the Big Guns haven't had everything their own way in other parts of Europe. In fact, the so-called 'Local Heroes' have again posted some excellent results. These include Dutch supermarket operator Jumbo (+9.4 per cent), German hypermarket operator Globus as well as Portuguese and Polish market leader Jerónimo Martins (+5.5 per cent).

Leading Spanish grocer Mercadona (+4.9 per cent), Spar Austria (+4.3 per cent), Belgian discounter Colruyt (+2.9 per cent) and north-Italian superstore operator Esselunga (+2 per cent) have also done well.

Neither should one forget to mention leading German drugstore operators dm and Rossmann who achieved a plus of 4.2 and 5.4 per cent, respectively, thus rivalling or even beating unwieldy global behemoth Walgreens Boots Alliance (+4.2 per cent).

Brexit doom & gloom?

Meanwhile, all big UK retailers, with the exception of American-owned Asda (-0.8 per cent), made gains in 2018, despite the pre-Brexit doom and gloom prophesied by such illustrious organisations as the British Retail Consortium and EuroCommerce. Better luck this year, perhaps?

Amazon-on-Thames and Rhine...

Amazon distribution centre in Winsen (photo: Carsten Milbret)
Carsten Milbret
Beats all the bricks: Amazon is no wandering innocent. The US online colossus is on a relentless march to conquer Old Europe
For all their talk about being multi-channel and "seamless", no European bricks & mortar retailer achieves even half the growth rate of Amazon. With a stomping plus of 20.3 per cent, the online giant made the biggest jump of all. Although the €33.3bn annual sales estimated by LZ Retailytics are still essentially non-food, the Seattle-based company has already made it to the Top 10 on this side of the Pond.

Where, all disrupted physical store operators should ask themselves, will the Americans be in ten years' time? Or is no one afraid of retail's big, bad wolf?

So, dear reader, have all these figures whetted your appetite for more? Would you like to see the whole ranking table in all its glory, perhaps as a dinky poster on your office wall? Or would you like experts to break the data down into the bits you need? Then we trust you will turn to our experts for further enlightenment...

Podcast microphone (photo: Gerhard Seybert-Fotolia)
Gerhard Seybert-Fotolia

Podcast. Click arrow to listen to an audio version of the text:

Lebensmittel Zeitung with its online sisters (photo: LZ)
photo: LZ
Our German retail B2B newspaper, Lebensmittel Zeitung, in print & digital
Read in German
: "Deutsche Händler prägen Europa" & "Europas Genossen zeigen erneut ihre Vertriebsstärke" by international editor Mike Dawson on pages 36, 37 and 38 of Lebensmittel Zeitung, no. 16, 18.04.2019; the ranking table and commentary are also available online via LZnet (paywall). All data as of February 28, 2019

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