BUSINESS

Supermarket sector sees turnover decline and more concentration

By Dimitra Manifava

Greece’s supermarket and cash and carry sector has declined at an annual rate of 3.7 percent over the last four years, hit – albeit to a lesser degree than other domains in the country’s economy – by the financial crisis and a drop in demand, according to an annual survey conducted by ICAP.

The crisis started to impact on the sector in 2010, when 20 years of consecutive growth came to an end, with a 1.4 percent annual drop in turnover. From 2011 to 2014, the yearly decline was three or four times that rate, reaching just over 11 billion euros last year.

Sector professionals say that the greatest impact has been on sales at hypermarkets, which sell a multitude of products other than food and basic commodities, offering apparel, electrical and electronic goods etc.

The economic crisis has favored concentration in the sector, the survey stressed, as evident since 2011 with company shutdowns, departures and acquisitions, a trend that has been growing in recent months. This has resulted in the constant growth of the store networks of the sector’s biggest chains.

Small and medium-sized enterprises in the domain are facing sustainability problems, while many have been forced to shut loss-making outlets or even close down altogether, resulting in the redistribution of their market share between the larger main players. Furthermore the biggest chains have economies of scale, which gives them an advantage over smaller enterprises and contributes in the increase in concentration.

The ICAP data showed that the 11 biggest companies in the sector (based on turnover) have 2,080 stores across the country, with 37.2 percent of them being in Attica.

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