For large retailers, 2020 was an exceptional year: especially in the first phase of the covid, the hoarding effect caused a boom in sales. Also driven by e-commerce. But it is a kind of bubble, as also seen in the later stages of the pandemic, and the expected situation is to return to normal. However, sustainability performance has also improved, although there is still a long way to go on this issue. Here is a summary of what can be obtained from the new Observatory on Italian and international large-scale distribution, mainly food, created by the Mediobanca Research Area.
2020 therefore saw the sector’s sales increase by 5%, of which 1% attributable to the boom in the online channel. Most of all, discounters grew, with 8.7%, and super, with 6.8%. The entire system for, the study reads, should fall back this year by 1.6%, thus bringing development in a two-year period of 3.3%. For e-commerce, another strong push of 60% is expected, which could bring this market segment to 3% of total sales, two years ahead of pre-pandemic estimates. However, this share is still quite limited if we consider that in Great Britain it exceeds 10% and that in various countries it is between 5 and 10%.
The sector in Italy is then more fragmented than the international situation. Although the market share of the top 5 in the sector is growing strongly, passing between 2015 and 2019 from 52.8% to 57.5%, if it is higher than the Spanish one (49.9%), on the other hand it is decidedly lower than in France. (78.1%), Great Britain (75.3%) and Germany (75.2%). Among the 17 Italian groups considered, Conad took the lead in terms of market share with 14.8% after the purchase of the Italian Auchan network, followed by Selex (with the Sun consortium) which holds 13.7%, then Coop with 12.9%, Esselunga with 9.3% and Veg (joined by Bennet) with 6.8%. As can be seen, the retailers’ associations have registered a surge and a certain consolidation is already underway in the sector. A trend that, according to analysts, considering the positions of the leaders abroad, will be confirmed with other mergers.
Profits on the shelf
First for cumulative profits in the five-year period 2015-2019 Italian Supermarkets, namely Esselunga, with overall net results of 1.3 billion, followed by Eurospin with one billion, Conad with 879 million, Veg with 839 and Selex with 738. Interesting to observe how immediately after that there is Lidl Italia, that is the Italian chain of the German discount group, while the French Carrefour has instead lost 603 million. The foreign component in our country, today with an overall market share of approximately 14%, has changed in recent years as can also be seen from the substantial exit of Auchan. Number one for industrial profitability is the discount chain Eurospin (which sells 100% of its own brand products) with 20.2%. Eurospin is also second in the world in this ranking which, internationally, sees the Australian group Coles in first place with 31.3%. And again in the worldwide rankings, Esselunga has the world record for sales per square meter with € 15,913. In second and third place are the English giants J Sainsbury and Tesco with, respectively, 13,571 and 11,485 euros. The comparison on this efficiency parameter becomes even more evident if we consider that, while Esselunga in 2019 achieved sales of about 8 billion, the turnover of J Sainsbury was 34.1 billion and Tesco of 76. And again, the world number one, the American group WalMart, which has a turnover of 462.8 billion, achieves sales per square meter of around 4,400 euros.
Finally, sustainability. If in Italy the presence of dedicated reports affects 63% of the total while abroad the share rises to 96.4%, the Italian groups impact for less in terms of carbon intensity with 136 kilograms of Co2 against 208. And the share of differentiated waste equal to 75.1% in Italy against 71.7% abroad.