Hypermarket retail sales boom in Romania

Biggest retailers invested over EUR 156 M in Romania in H1
Nine O’Clock July 29, 2008
by Monica Apostol

Most aggressive expansion by far was registered by French retailer Carrefour, reaching 15 units in total.

Big retail chains operating in Romania in the first six months of 2008 opened over 25 stores nation-wide, in which they invested about EUR 156 M, the most dynamic players being the discounters and the supermarket operators, ‘The Money Channel’ reports.

The most aggressive expansion in the first semester by far was registered by French retailer Carrefour that opened four hypermarkets in Suceava, Bucharest (Vitantis), Pitesti and Arad, reaching a total of 15 units. Carrefour’s investment in H1 2008 was nearly EUR 80 M. The retailer will continue its country expansion strategy in 2008 and 2009 with new openings planned in Oradea, Buzau, Sibiu, Deva, a second one in Braila, Iasi and Constanta and a new one in Bucharest (Berceni). The company has remodelled eight of its 21 Artima supermarkets taken over and re-branded Carrefour Express last year.

German retailer Kaufland only opened two new hypermarkets out of ten in the former half of the year, in Braila and Slatina, with an investment averaging EUR 8 M each. Kaufland now operates 34 hypermarkets in the entire country.

In the first semester, another German retailer – Real Hypermarket – opened only one store, in Bucharest (Berceni) with over EUR 22 M investment. That was the company’s 15th unit in Romania, with the 2008 investment schedule including six other outlets.

In the supermarket segment, the most active chain in the H1 was Mega Image, witch, apart from its own two units, also bought to 14 La Fourmi supermarkets for EUR 18.6 M.

Dutch group Spar opened, in the same period, two supermarkets in Constanta and Chisineu-Cris, with a total investment of over EUR 2 M, now having a total of 16 stores. German retailer Billa also opened two supermarkets: in Slatina and Bacau, now running a total of 30 across the country. Billa’s objective in 2008 is to add ten new supermarkets to its existing chain and to keep this fast rhythm of expansion of 6 to 10 units per year by 2010 until reaching a total of 50.

Very active were discount retailers, too. The fastest expansion was registered by Plus Discount, with five stores opened by the end of June 2008 and three other in July, plus a new one planned in Tarnaveni. The company invested EUR 7.5 M in total in the first semester and will have 59 stores before this month ends. Plus is closely followed by local MiniMax Discount that had doubled its network of stores by the end of June 2009 when it was operating 16 units, compared to the first six months in 2007. Retailer Rewe Romania opened two stores – Penny Market in Baia Mare and Oradea and a Penny Market XXL in Brasov.

A rather moderate expansion is visible on the cash&carry segment, the operators having, in fact, quite a broad coverage of the country. Selgros Cash&Carry Romania opened only one distribution facility before the end of June 2008, with an investment of about EUR 20 M. On the other hand, its competitor, Metro Cash&Carry Romania running 23 distribution centres in Romania and three in the Republic of Moldova has announced a re-launch of expansion with one new unit planned in Deva this year.

Carrefour hits 435m-euro sales, second only to Metro
Bucharest Daily News – January 30, 2006 

Carrefour‘s hypermarket network made 435 million-euro sales last year, an increase of more than 64% on the previous year, writes today’s Ziarul Financiar.
Carrefour has become the second leading player on the retail market after German Metro Group, whose sales overshot the 1 billion-euro mark.
The growth in the sales of the main hypermarket chain on the domestic market overlapped with the fast-paced increase in consumption due to the consumer lending boom and to the extra income generated by the introduction of the flat tax.
Still, the economic growth announced for last year was less than 4.5%, below the initial expectations of the government. Carrefour is currently operating five hypermarkets on the domestic market, the last of which was opened in Ploiesti last autumn.
“The growth in comparable perimeter sales (i.e. measured by the four stores in operation in 2004) and exchange rate exclusion were put at 47%,” Hyparlo representatives say.
The strong sales growth will be maintained over the next few years, company officials say.
“We will open two more stores this year in Baneasa (northern Bucharest) and Constanta, and maintain at least the same pace for the next few years,” says Francois Oliver, Carrefour Romania chief executive. The entrance of the French on to the market had occurred, according to their own estimates, at a time when statistics on Romanians’ buying power would not have encouraged such an investment.
“Were we to rely on market surveys, we would never have come to Romania. When we came to Romania in 1999, we mainly relied on instincts,” said Jean Michel Arlaud, general manager of Hyparlo, owner of the Carrefour franchise for Romania.
Carrefour hypermarkets have been present on the Romanian market since 2001, when the first such store opened in Western Bucharest. From that moment onwards, Hyparlo has opened four more stores, in Bucharest, Brasov and Ploiesti, with investments exceeding 140 million euros.
French Carrefour Group announced at the end of last year that it was going to take control of Hyparlo, its biggest franchisee, after having acquired a significant stake in the company earlier in the year.