Colruyt, which operates the Colruyt Lowest Prices, OKay and Spar banners in Belgium, among others, now holds close to a third (32.5%) of the Belgian market, according to the retailer's half-year financial results.
Colruyt saw its revenue rise 2.8% in the first half of the year, to €4.7 billion, which was boosted by both calendar effects and its acquisition of Fiets!, a bicycle retailer.
Comparable revenue growth was up 2.1% including fuel, and 1.9% excluding fuel. This was boosted by a positive calendar effect of 1.3% in the period, thanks to the later Easter. EBIT for the period was €266 million.
Gross margin rose to 26.6% of revenue, due to 'operational improvements', the retailer said.
During the period, which ran from 1 April to 30 September, the Belgian market was marked by ' a challenging macroeconomic environment, fierce competition and fluctuating promotional pressure', Colruyt said in its statement.
Its core Colruyt business in Belgium and Luxembourg saw revenue rise 1.4%, in a period in which the business invested in new store openings and store expansion, and well as focus on the rollout of electronic price labelling.
OKay, Bio-Planet and Cru reported an aggregate revenue growth of 3.0%, while Colruyt in France was up 11.9%.
Looking ahead to the rest of the year, Colruyt said that it expects the retail market to remain 'competitive', adding that it does 'not anticipate a significant upturn in the economic climate for the consumer in Belgium in the short term. Colruyt Group expects consumer confidence to remain slightly positive in France'.
It also announced the creation of a new renewable energy company, formed by the combination of renewable energy assets held by Colruyt Group and Korys (the family majority shareholder). This is likely to result in a one-off positive impact of €47 million on the business' full-year results.
© 2019 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.