Billa price hikes ahead

Bosses of leading supermarket chain Billa have revealed plans to raise some prices.Billa board member Josef Siess said today (Fri) it would be “illusory” not to implement increases considering current international developments. Various foodstuff and raw materials have become more expensive in the past months, developments speculators have been accused of by many economists and think tanks.Siess told the Kurier newspaper he saw Billa in a position to keep the upcoming price hike “moderate,” adding that they would come into effect in the coming months. The company co-chief explained the price of some products on sale at the 1,003 Billa shops across Austria even declined last year. Special offers have a share of nearly 30 per cent of Billa’s entire portfolio, he revealed.Around 80 million Euros will be invested throughout this year to make the existing branches more attractive, according to Siess. Forty new Billa shops will open in the remaining months of 2011, he added.Billa’s activities in Austria are handled by Rewe International which belongs to Germany’s Rewe Group. Rewe International also coordinates the operations of discounter Penny and other supermarket chains.Rewe Group chief Frank Hensel warned earlier this year there was “no reason for us to be euphoric about 2011” considering immense harvest declines and soaring foodstuff prices owing to speculation. Hensel pointed out in February that “several price hikes will be unavoidable.”Billa leads the Austrian supermarket industry ahead of Spar Austria.Spar Austria head Gerhard Drexel caused a stir only recently by predicting the “demise” of French food giant Danone. Drexel said he was speaking with 21 years of experience in the trade as he attacked the company over its efforts to offer yoghurt drink Actimel at discount supermarket Hofer. The chain is part of Germany’s Aldi Group.”None of those who think they have to offer their brand everywhere eventually succeed,” the Spar Austria boss said. Drexel added the value of such brands slumped before they suffered a “demise.”He vowed to up the focus on producing and advertising Spar Austria’s Actiplus, another so-called probiotic yoghurt. “We only use Austrian milk to make Spar Vital Actiplus, while Danone opts for milk from the Czech Republic and Poland,” the businessman said.