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Top 10 Supermarket Retail Chains In Italy

By Branislav Pekic
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Top 10 Supermarket Retail Chains In Italy

Inflation has been one of the main talking points for both retailers and consumers during 2023, although as the year drew to a close, there were signs that the burden was easing for shoppers.

According to statistics body ISTAT, the Italian consumer price index (across all segments) was down 0.4% in November 2023 on a month-on-month basis, and 0.8% higher on an annual basis, indicating signs of stabilisation, however grocery prices have remained stubbornly high.

While grocery prices (including unprocessed food) increased by just 0.6% on a month-on-month basis in November, the year-on-year increase was 5.8%. In October, the year-on-year increase in grocery prices stood at 6.1%.

The flooding in northern Italy earlier this year had repercussions on food prices, as noted by the farming group Coldiretti. The May 2023 flooding, considered the most severe in the country in a century, impacted more than 5,000 farms, and countless more suppliers.

According to the most recently available figures, the Italian retail sector reported a 3.7% increase in value sales in the first nine months of 2023 (January to September) with the large-scale distribution channel, including hypermarkets, supermarkets and discounters, seeing sales up by 6.4%. Within large-scale distribution, food sales were up 8.0% in the period, although this was largely driven by inflation.

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Elsewhere, a recent report by Coop Italia found that increased numbers of shoppers are turning to store brands as they seek to save money, with eight out of ten Italians saying that private label is a proven way to mitigate the effects of inflation. Retailers including Gruppo Végé, Eurospin and Despar have all recently announced investments in their private-label ranges.

Here's an overview of the top ten supermarket retail chains in Italy, according to their most recently-available full-year turnover. All data is supplied by Retail-Index.

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1. Conad
Turnover: €18.45 billion (2022)

Conad has confirmed its leadership position in the large-scale retail sector in Italy, recording total sales of €18.45 billion in 2022.

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Over the past 15 years, Conad, which is led by CEO Francesco Pugliese, has more than doubled its turnover, while in the past decade its market share has risen by 4.7%, reaching 15.07% as of the end of 2021, or 23.7% in the supermarket channel alone.

Conad’s network consists of 3,332 outlets of different formats, including supermarkets, hypermarkets and discount stores (Todis), in addition to 334 concept stores (pharmacies, opticians, pet stores, and petrol stations). Private label sales grew 5.8% year-on-year to €4.8 billion.

Read More: Italy's Conad, Coop Focus On Services To Boost Revenue

2. Gruppo Selex
Turnover: €16.7 billion (2021)

Gruppo Selex reported turnover of €16.7 billion in its financial year 2021.

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With a 14.6% market share, the group is the second largest player in the modern distribution sector in Italy. Consisting of 18 member companies, Selex’s network comprises 3,190 stores across various formats, from superstores to discount outlets.

Its most popular banners are Famila, A&O and C+C, which are flanked by regional brands that are often leaders in their respective territories. Selex Gruppo Commerciale is part of the central buying group ESD Italia, which in turn is a partner of European retail alliance EMD.

Private label sales grew 5.5% year-on-year in 2021 to €1.52 billion, with 90% of sales coming from four brands – Selex, Vale, Consilia and Il Gigante – which accounted for 16% of total sales.

The president of Gruppo Selex is Alessandro Revello, while Maniele Tasca holds the position of CEO.

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3. Coop
Turnover: €14.3 billion (2021)

Cooperative retailer Coop Italia achieved a 2021 turnover of €14.3 billion, down from the previous year’s €14.4 billion.

The association of 78 cooperatives managed to slightly increase its market share in the large-scale retail sector, from 12.4% in 2020 to 12.5% a year later, while its overall market share stood at 12.3%. Coop Italia had more than 1,600 outlets as of the end of 2021.

Private label sales accounted for 30% of in-store sales, compared to 27.5% in 2020, with Coop's private label brands including FiorFiore, ViviVerde, Solidal, Bene-si, Coop Origine, Casa and Io.

The president of Coop Italia is Marco Pedroni, while the chief executive is Maura Latini.

Read More: Consumption Declines In Italy, Discounters Gain Market Share

4. Gruppo Végé
Turnover: €11.95 billion (2021)

Italian retail cooperative Gruppo VéGé has seen eight consecutive years of turnover growth, ending 2021 with €11.95 billion in sales, up 5.9% on 2020. Its market share has reached 7.1%, a six-fold increase over the past decade.

The group, led by chairman Giovanni Arena and CEO Giorgio Santambrogio, is a market leader in the Campania, Sicily and Basilicata regions.

It closed the year with 3,836 stores, the most of any nationwide group, with its outlets operating under different formats and banners, including Tosano, Bennet, Multicedi, Arena, Gruppo Isa, Vega, Moderna and Piccolo.

Read More: Private Labels, Digitalisation To Drive Growth For Gruppo VéGé In 2024

5. Esselunga
Turnover: €8.5 billion (2021)

Esselunga was the first supermarket chain to be introduced in Italy, and to this day is still flagged as a model operator by many.

The company achieved consolidated sales of €8.5 billion in 2021, while its market share reached 8.3%.

Esselunga's sales network comprises 168 stores, predominantly located in Northern and Central Italy, all of which are directly-owned. The superstore format dominates, although in recent years Esselunga has been rolling out new formats such as Elisenda and laEsse.

Private label accounts for around 28% of sales, with the store brand offering including brands such as Top, Equilibrio, Bio, Naturama, Esselunga, Pronti da Cuocere, Per chi Ama la Natura, and La Cucina Esselunga.

Marina Sylvia Caprotti is the chairperson and CEO of Esselunga.

Read More: Esselunga Launches Into Wine E-Commerce

6. Crai
Turnover: €6.25 billion (2020, estimated)

Crai reported an estimated turnover of €6.25 billion in 2020, according to Retail-Index.

The company operates under banners including Cash & Carry Alimentari, Crai Superette, and Crai Supermercati, and boasts around 3,700 stores.

7. EuroSpin
Turnover: €6.2 billion (2020, estimated)

Italy’s largest discounter, Eurospin, closed 2020 with an estimated turnover of €6.2 billion. The company has a 6.5% national market share, but is the leader in the hard discount segment in Italy, where it holds close to a third (31.79%) of the market.

Its network consists of over 1,200 points of sale in Italy, many operated under franchise agreements. Eurospin also operates 51 stores in Slovenia and seven in Croatia.

Private label accounts for the overwhelming majority of the group's sales, with over 55 brands featuring in its offering, including Pascoli Italiani, Tre Mulini, Dolciando per i Dolci, Dexal, Bottega del Gusto, and Ordina.

The chairman of Eurospin is Alesssandro Penasa.

Read More: Italy's Eurospin Launches Premium Private Label Line

8. Lidl
Turnover: €5.5 billion (2021)

The Italian unit of German discounter Lidl achieved revenues of €5.5 billion in its fiscal year 2020/21 (+7% year-on-year).

Lidl Italia is eighth in the marketplace in terms of overall market share with 4.7%, but ranks second in the discount channel, with a 21.65% share. Some 20 years after opening its first store in Italy, its network now consists of 700 outlets, with a nationwide presence.

Private label accounted for 80% of sales in the most recent financial year, across 17 private label brands, such as Italiamo, Freshona, Alesto, Latteria, Gelatelli and Cien.

The chairman and CEO of Lidl Italia is Massimiliano Silvestri.

Read More: Lidl Italia To Open 150 New Stores By 2024

9. Carrefour
Turnover: €4.17 billion (2021)

Carrefour Italia reported sales of €4.17 billion in 2021, while its market share stood at 7.1% as of year-end.

Carrefour Italia, which is led by CEO Cristophe Rabatel, is the leading franchise operator in the large-scale distribution sector in Italy, with more than 1,500 stores, of which 1,000 are run by franchisees, mostly under the Market and Express banners. In recent years, the French group has shuttered, sold or transformed many of its hypermarkets into smaller stores.

Carrefour Italia sells around 3,000 SKUs under its private label brands, such as Carrefour and Terre d’Italia.

Read More: Carrefour Italia Secures €55m Credit Line For ESG Projects

10. Despar
Turnover: €3.99 billion (2021)

Despar Italia, the Italian concessionaire of the SPAR brand, ended 2021 with a turnover of €3.99 billion.

The retailer operates three store formats – Despar (neighbourhood, small-sized supermarkets), Eurospar (medium-sized supermarkets, ideal for weekly shopping) and Interspar (large-sized supermarkets, similar to hypermarkets).

Its network consists of 1,374 points outlets, of which are 433 directly-owned and 941 affiliated. Private label accounted for 20.6% of total grocery sales in 2021 (+0.3% year-on-year).

The president of Despar Italia is Gianni Cavalieri, while Paul Klotz holds the role of vice-president.

Read More: Private Labels Drive Despar Italia’s Performance In 2023

About Retail-Index

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 Branislav Pekic. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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