Serbian Retail Market Grows and Consolidates in 2019

By Branislav Pekic
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Serbian Retail Market Grows and Consolidates in 2019

The arrival of Lidl and interest among other foreign players is driving growth and consolidation in the Serbian retail market.

Leading players including Delhaize Serbia, Mercator-S and Univerexport have all seen revenue growth in 2019, despite slower economic growth compared to 2018.

Leading The Way

Market leader Delhaize Serbia opened 24 stores in six cities (including in Ub and Leskovac), bringing its total to around 450. Sales at the business improved in the third quarter of the year, compared to previous quarters.

Further expansion is planned for 2020, including the opening of a new specialised store 'that will stand out both in terms of product range and visual identity, while maintaining a focus on the highest standards of service', according to the retailer.

Second-placed Mercator-S (operates stores under the Idea, Roda and Mercator banners) reported 6% retail revenue growth in Q3 2019 compared to the first quarter of the year.


However, it saw a contraction in the number of stores it operates, from 321 in Q4 2018 to 319 in Q3 2019. Its parent company, Slovenia’s Mercator Group, reported growth in both revenue and profit for the first nine months of the year (+1.6% sales, +4.7% retail revenue and +7.6% net profit).

Univerexport, which claims to be the largest domestically-owned chain in revenue terms, ended the year with 145 stores, in addition to the 26 outlets it operates under the Trgopromet banner.

During 2019, Aroma Market expanded its network in Belgrade, reaching 62 stores, while DIS opened seven points of sale under its new banner Super DIS, taking its network to 31 units.

However, of the main operators in the Serbian marketplace, Gomex opened the most stores last year (25), giving it a total of 187 stores, mainly located in the northern province of Vojvodina.


Discounter Lidl, which arrived in Serbia in October 2018, has managed to snatch around 8% of the local market, and has since opened 37 stores in 26 cities and towns, with further expansion planned in 2020.

Mergers And Acquisitions

The biggest M&A purchase of the year was the purchase of the Leskovac-based Orion supermarket chain in southern Serbia, by the Aman group.

Founded in 1992 by Jordanian-born Nedal Halil, Aman has been growing rapidly, opening 32 new stores over the past year, taking its total store count to 262, most of them in the capital Belgrade.

At the end of December, daily newspaper Alo reported, citing 'well-informed sources' that multinational franchise Spar is in the final stage of negotiations to take over Aman, which is said to be facing financial challenges. The same source claims that an agreement could be signed early in 2020.


However, Aman has since denied the report, while Spar started they have no plans to enter the Serbian market for the time being, according to local newspaper Danas.

The retail market in Serbia, contrary to many other countries in the Balkans, is relatively less consolidated, with the top five retailers combined accounting for 32% of the market, with small independent retailers and local markets accounting for the remainder.

As well as Delhaize, Mercator Group and Lidl, two other international retailers are active in Serbia (Metro AG and Greece’s Veropoulos).

© 2020 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

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