Retail sales in Bulgaria rose by 5.6% in January of this year, compared to the same month in 2022, the country's National Statistics Institute has said. This growth was largely driven by non-food and fuel, with sales of food, beverages and tobacco flat (+0.2%) compared to a year earlier.
Like in many other European countries, inflation has been an issue in Bulgaria, with the country's consumer protection commission chair, Stoil Alipiev, suggesting in February that retail chains 'distort the market'. Elsewhere, Nikola Stoyanov, the country's Minister of Economy and Industry, has accused the country's biggest grocers of unfairly marking-up products, claims that supermarket chains – notably Lidl – have hit back at.
At the end of March, Bulgaria's caretaker government introduced a food price comparison platform, aimed at enabling shoppers to measure the price of essential goods. The site also displays commodity price movements over a 30-day period, according to local media reports.
Here's an overview of the top ten supermarket retail chains in Bulgaria, according to their most recently-available full-year turnover. All data is supplied by Retail-Index (www.retail-index.com).
1. Kaufland & Lidl
Turnover: €1.77 billion (2021)
Kaufland & Lidl are the leading supermarket retail chains in Bulgaria, with a combined turnover of €1.77 billion (as of 2021). Kaufland currently has 69 stores in the country, while Lidl has 109, giving the combined entity a total of 178. Both are operated by Germany's Schwarz Group.
2. Metro C&C
Turnover: €435 million (2021)
Wholesaler Metro C&C operates ten outlets in Bulgaria. In 2021, the cash-and-carry firm's turnover stood at €435 million. Mariya Angelova is the chief executive of Metro's Bulgarian business.
Turnover: €429 million (2021)
BILLA is another popular supermarket retail chain in Bulgaria, with a turnover of €429 million as of 2021. The company operates under two banners: BILLA and Penny, with a current total of 141 stores in the country. BILLA is a subsidiary of Germany's REWE Group.
4. T Market
Turnover: €198 million (2021)
T Market has had a presence in the Bulgarian market since 1995. In 2021, the company reported a turnover of €198 million. It currently has 116 stores across the country. It is a subsidiary of Maxima Grupé UAB, based in Lithuania.
Turnover: €128 million (2021)
Fantastico, which recently marked its 30th anniversary, operates 45 stores in Bulgaria. It reported a turnover of €128 million in 2021. The group is led by executive director Svetoslav Gavrilov.
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Turnover: €20 million (2021)
Dar operates ten stores across Bulgaria, and reported a turnover of €20 million in its most recent financial year (2021).
Turnover: €20 million (2021)
Hit is a Bulgarian hypermarket chain that reported a turnover of €20 million in 2021. The group operates two stores in Bulgaria, in Mladost and Lyulin, both districts of Sofia.
Turnover: €12 million (2020)
With a turnover of €12 million (as of 2020) and 16 stores, 345 is the eighth biggest player in the Bulgarian supermarket retail industry. The business is led by CEO Georgi Stefanov Trendafilov.
9. Kam Market
Turnover: €10 million (2020)
Kam Market is another relatively small supermarket chain in Bulgaria, with 22 outlets and a turnover of €10 million as of 2020. Tanya Kamcheva is the chief executive of the firm, which was founded in 2017.
Turnover: €7 million (2020)
Leksi is a small chain of just four stores, located in the city of Plovdiv and the surrounding region. It boasted a turnover of €7 million in 2020.
Other notable retailers in Bulgaria include CBA, which boasts 126 stores, according to the data, and Balev Biomarkt, which boasts five stores. In addition, the country has a number of pure-play internet retailers that also sell food, including Ebag.bg, BGM.bg, Pingo.bg, Supermag.bg, Randi.bg and Superbagplovdiv.bg.
Retail-Index is a specialist supplier of management information on consumer retail markets, provided by Veraart Research Group in the Netherlands. Its mission is to supply managers with up-to-date key information on retail markets in Europe and support them in their international expansion.
The company dates back to 1964, when it started as a market research and marketing consulting company for consumer products and services. In 1989, it started publishing written reports on various retail sectors in Europe. As of 2005, it publishes its information on retailers through the online database and curated datasheet exports available on www.retail-index.com. A team of researchers manages the data to reflect upon current developments in the markets, collected from an extensive number of sources.
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© 2023 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.