Belgian retailer Colruyt Group has reported a 3.7% increase in revenue in its 2020/21 financial year, noting that the COVID-19 pandemic had a 'diverse impact' on its operations.
The group said that it food revenue grew at a 'slower pace' than the overall Belgian market, given the nature of the retailer's portfolio, which has fewer neighbourhood stores compared to its competitors.
This, in turn, led the market share of the group in Belgium to decline to 31.3% in the period, compared to 32.1% for the same period last year.
Nonetheless, its food stores ' handled higher volumes in financial year 2020/21 and thus again fulfilled their essential role in the food chain', the company said. At the same time, revenue from its non-food operations, foodservice and fuel distribution activities declined.
Profits Rise At Colruyt
Operating profit (EBITDA) for the financial year stood at €850 million, a 5.4% increase on the previous year, while gross profit margin improved by 71 basis points (excluding petrol), to 28.1%.
The group said that this margin evolution largely reflects lower promotional pressure at the start of the financial year, with a ban on promotions and discounts imposed in Belgian supermarkets at the start of the pandemic.
In terms of the performance of its various banners, its Colruyt business in Belgium and Luxembourg saw revenue up 3.0%, while its OKay, Bio-Planet and Cru arm reported an aggregate revenue growth of 12.5%, mainly as a result of expansion and of volume gains.
In France, Colruyt saw a 7.2% increase (excluding petrol), driven by both expansion and organic growth as a result of the pandemic. The group recently announced the opening of a new distribution centre in Nancy, to better service its French operations.
Non-food retail revenue grew by 37.6%, but this is largely reflected by the consolidation of The Fashion Society into its business, rather than an improvement in in-store sales. Enforced store closures impacted its non-food operations, with the combined store revenue of Dreamland, Dreambaby and Bike Republic (formerly Fiets!) declining by 2.7%.
The Year Ahead
Due to the continued impact of the COVID-19 crisis, Colruyt said that it is 'unable' to make any statements regarding macroeconomic and competitive trends, adding that it 'continues to closely monitor' developments.
It expects its 2020/21 performance to be 'difficult to match' in the coming financial year, with the uncertainty regarding the pandemic likely to impact its 2021/21 performance.
'Colruyt Group maintains its long-term focus and will continue to consistently pursue its long-term strategy,' the company said. 'Colruyt Lowest Prices will continue to consistently implement its lowest prices strategy, guaranteeing its customers the lowest price for each article at each moment.'