Despite the challenging and unpredictable economic circumstances, the modern food retail market in Portugal remains fiercely competitive, with significant promotional activity and a rapid pace of store expansion.
Over the past decade, the concentration of the market has significantly increased, with the two largest distribution groups (MC Sonae and Grupo Jerónimo Martins) accounting for approximately 50% of the market share, which rises to almost 75% if other major players Intermarché, Lidl, and Auchan are included.
Retailers such as Mercadona, Aldi, and Lidl, with ambitious expansion plans, are also exerting increasing pressure on established players in the supermarket sector.
The number of food retail stores continues to grow, with 257 new stores opening in 2021, primarily in the form of proximity and convenience stores. At the same time, Portugal is still one of the few European countries with an extensive network of independent local operators (Unimark), which continue to play a significant role, representing 10% to 20% of the industry.
Although Portuguese consumers remain highly price-sensitive (with 90% of products sold at a discount), they are increasingly considering other factors such as product origin, environmental impact, social responsibility, transparency, and healthy options.
Here's a snapshot of the top ten supermarket retail chains in Portugal.
Turnover in 2021: €5.36 billion
Since opening the first hypermarket in Portugal in 1985, MC Sonae has developed into the leader in the food retail sector, with a market share of around 26%.
The company achieved a 2021 consolidated turnover of €5.36 billion, from a multi-format store network of 1,342 stores, of which 984 are company operated. Its main banners are Continente (urban hypermarkets), Continente Modelo (large supermarkets), Continente Bom Dia (proximity supermarkets) and Meu Super (neighbourhood franchise stores).
In 2021, Continente was the first European brand to open a store with no check-outs or product scanning (Continente Labs).
MC Sonae is also present in the health, wellness and beauty segments, and also runs coffee shops, stationery, pet and home décor stores. The CEO of parent company Sonae is Cláudia Azevedo.
2. Grupo Jerónimo Martins
Turnover in 2021: €5.2 billion
Jerónimo Martins operates in the food distribution and specialised retail sectors in Poland, Portugal and Colombia. In 2021, it recorded sales of €20.9 billion, of which Portugal accounted for €5.2 billion.
In its home market, the group operates banners including Pingo Doce (€4.05 billion in sales) and Recheio (€906 million), which are market leaders in the supermarket and cash & carry segments, respectively.
Pingo Doce holds around 21% share of the market. Jerónimo Martins' store network in Portugal consists of 464 Pingo Doce and 38 Recheio stores.
Private label products were responsible for 35% of sales at Pingo Doce (under brands such as Pingo Doce and Go Active) and 26% at Recheio (brands include Amanhecer and Masterchef). The chairman of Grupo Jerónimo Martins is Pedro Soares dos Santos.
3. Intermarché (ITMP Alimentar)
Turnover in 2021: €2.26 billion
Food retailer Intermarché is part of Grupo Os Mosqueteiros, the Portuguese unit of French retail group Les Mousquetaires.
Intermarché posted a 2021 turnover of €2.26 billion (including fuel) and has a 11.1% market share in Portugal. The group operates 261 Intermarché stores across 18 districts, and, in recent years, the company has refocused its attention from hypermarkets to the proximity channel.
Its PorSi private label brand consists of over 3,300 SKUs, and accounts for 26% of the group's sales. The chairman of parent group Grupo Os Mosqueteiros is Pedro Subtil.
4. Lidl Portugal
Turnover in 2020: €1.75 billion (estimated)
German discounter Lidl entered the Portuguese market in 1995 and has since opened over 260 stores, achieving an 11.7% market share. The company does not publish financial results, but its 2020 turnover was estimated at €1.75 billion.
In 2021, Lidl opened the chain's first store in a motorway service area in Europe, located in Oeiras (A5), in partnership with Brisa. It has also been opening proximity stores in train and metro stations in Lisbon. The retailer plans to invest €100 million to open its first stores in the autonomous region of Madeira during 2023.
Private label accounts for around 80% of Lidl Portugal's assortment and brands include Milbona, Três Velas, Fumadinho, Chef Select, Terra do Vento, and Cien. The CEO of Lidl Portugal is Alexander Frech.
5. Auchan Retail Portugal
Turnover in 2020: €1.42 billion (estimated)
Present in Portugal since 1970, when it opened its first supermarket, French retailer Auchan operates 65 stores, of which 21 are franchised. It reported an estimated turnover of €1.42 billion in 2020.
Its network consists of three hypermarkets, four supermarkets and 30 My Auchan ultra-proximity stores, in addition to 29 petrol stations. Auchan Retail Portugal has a 5.9% market share and employs 8,479 people. The chief executive of Auchan Retail Portugal is Pedro Cid.
Turnover in 2021: €900 million
Unimark was set up in 1996, as a cooperative of wholesalers and retailers of FMCG to improve purchasing conditions for suppliers and sales to customers. Turnover in 2021 surpassed €900 million, equating to annual growth of 7%.
The cooperative consists of two retail chains and 17 wholesale companies, with 39 cash & carry stores (mainly in North and Central Portugal) and over 1,400 directly owned or associated supermarkets and mini-markets.
The Aqui é Fresco store network was established by Unimark in 2011, and boasted 777 outlets as of the end of 2021. Private label brand Up incorporates more than 600 food and non-food references, accounting for 10% to 15% of sales.
João Vieira Lopes is the director general of Unimark, while Carla Esteves is the executive director.
7. DIA Portugal
Turnover in 2021: €592.9 million
Spanish retailer DIA has been present in Portugal since 1993, when it acquired local discounter Minipreço.
The company's net sales in Portugal dropped 5.9% year-on-year in 2021, to €592.9 million, and accounted for 8.9% of total group sales (€6.65 billion).
DIA operates 499 stores in Portugal, of which 202 are company-owned and 297 franchised, and holds a market share of 8.3%. In 2021, the group launched a new proximity store concept, renewed its private label brand and strengthened its relationship with franchisees.
At group level, DIA has 6,800 private label SKUs, adding 2,000 new references in the last two years.
Turnover in 2021: €415 million
Since its arrival in Portugal in 2019, Spanish supermarket chain Mercadona has set a goal of opening 10 new stores per year, targeting around 150 to 200 outlets in total.
At group level, Mercadona reported €27.8 billion in sales during financial year 2021, of which €415 million was generated in Portugal, where the banner holds approximately 3% market share.
The banner ended the year with 29 stores in Portugal, nine more than in 2020. Each store offers around 6,000 SKUs, of which private label accounts for 50%.
9. Aldi Portugal
Turnover in 2021: €399 million (estimated)
Discounter Aldi has been active in Portugal since 2006, ending 2021 with more than 100 stores across most districts of mainland Portugal, and an estimated turnover of €399 million. On average, the company opens around 20 stores per year.
Aldi Portugal is targeting 200 outlets by 2025 and recently rolled out a new proximity format, focused on urban centres.
The company does not disclose financial figures, but according to some estimates has a 4.2% market share in Portugal. Wolfgang Graff is the CEO of Aldi Portugal.
Turnover in 2021: €199 million
Spanish proximity retail cooperative Coviran achieved sales of €1.64 billion at group level in 2021, of which €199 million was generated in Portugal. Coviran holds an estimated 2% share of the Portuguese retail market.
Its network consists of 290 stores, making it the fifth biggest in Portugal in terms of store count. Since 2019, the cooperative has been rolling out the new Coviran Plus store concept, providing a more accessible and comfortable shopping space, with a special focus on customer service.
Coviran offers around 1,400 private-label SKUs across a variety of categories. The chairman of the Board of Coviran is José Antonio Benito Díaz.
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