Eurotorg, the largest food retailer in Belarus, has said that while the situation in the country has recently been 'complex', following the country's recent presidential election, there has been 'no effect' on the business' day to day operations.
"Our activities continue in the ordinary course," commented Andrei Zubkou, Eurotorg chief executive, announcing the group's half-year figures. "We have more than 36,000 employees, and more than a million people across the country shop in the company’s stores and online services every day.
"We take our responsibilities seriously, and are doing everything we can to maintain business as usual.”
Eurotorg posted a 7.5% increase in revenue in the period to 30 June, to BYN 2.6 billion. Like-for-like sales at the retailer were up 1.9%, while the group's e-commerce business grew by 30.8%.
The group opened a net nine new stores in the first half, with 22 openings, and 13 closures. In keeping with the group's asset-light expansion strategy, 98% of the newly-added space was leased.
“Eurotorg has reported robust results for 1H 2020 despite the unprecedented challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic," said Zubkou, adding that the group has "strengthened its focus" on operational efficiency.
"We reduced marketing costs, kept personnel costs under strict control, and also optimised logistics expenses. These measures supported a 32.7% increase in operating profit and a 24.1% uptick in EBITDA for 1H 2020."
Eurotorg announced the continued rollout of its Groshyk hard discount format, with 13 outlets now open as of 30 June, the retailer said.
Elsewhere, the business Hit! discounter format has also seen growth, with a total of 264 stores now operating under the banner, and Eurotorg launching a new online grocery service, Hit! Dostavka.
“Our two discounter banners, Hit! and Groshyk, continue to perform in line with our expectations, as price has become an even more important factor driving consumer grocery shopping behaviour in an uncertain environment," said Zubkou.
"Our strategic decision to invest in maintaining our price leadership has reaped its rewards, and we have kept a high level of customer loyalty and undisputed market leadership even amid heightened volatility.
The group said that it took advantage of favourable conditions on international capital markets to place RUB 5 billion worth of five years bonds on the Moscow Exchange in June, which drew a 'high level of interest' from investors.
"As a result, we were able to reduce the coupon rate by 1.5 p.p. from our debut issue on Moscow Exchange just over a year ago," said Zubkou.
"The latest bond placement diversified our sources of long-term funding and improved the currency structure of our debt portfolio, as well as strengthened our reputation as a high-quality issuer among both regional and international investors."
© 2020 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine