Mercator Group has budgeted €44 million for investments in 2020, of which 57% will be allocated to investments in Slovenia.
The retail group plans to open 28 new stores and refurbish 65 stores in Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro.
It also plans to boost its cooperation with local and regional suppliers, develop new commercial platforms and new and innovative store concepts, mainly convenience store formats.
For full-year 2019/20, Mercator Group is expecting revenue of €2.3 billion and normalized EBITDA of €110 million. While the net debt to normalized EBITDA ratio in 2016 was at 14.1, the plan is to slash this ratio to 4.5 by the end of 2020.
Mercator will actively continue the construction of a new logistics and distribution centre in Ljubljana, which will be completed by the end of 2021 and is the largest investment in the group's history.
The retailer has also earmarked significant resources for investments in logistics capacities and network expansion in Serbia.
Mercator Group's sales revenue in the first nine months grew by 1.6% year-on-year, amounting to €1.64 billion.
Normalized EBITDA increased to €130.5 million, while comparable net profit exceeded the figure for the comparable period by €9.6 million. Net financial debt was lower by 18.1% or €139.4 million, while the ratio between net financial debt and normalized EBITDA was 5.8 (-21.8%).
Slovenia remains the group's most important market, with local unit Poslovni sistem Mercator recording a 5.6% growth in sales revenue and a 4.7% increase in retail revenue.
Mercator Group saw the largest revenue growth Bosnia and Herzegovina (+6.9%), followed by Serbia (+6.0%) and Montenegro (+0.3%).
Mercator Group, which boasts the highest customer with its loyalty cards (1.8 million), will soon open the first smart or pop-up stores in the region, modelled on similar stores operated by the likes of Tesco, Sainsbury's, Carrefour, or Walmart.
© 2019 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Branislav Pekic. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine