Fewer supermarkets in Austria

Austria’s leading supermarket chains have reduced the number of their shops in the past years, a survey has found.

Market analysis company RegioData said today (Thurs) the country’s strongest supermarket companies currently run 5,000 shops, down from 5,700 in 2004. The agency explained market leader Billa, Spar Austria and other firms were trying to optimise their networks after decades of expansion.

RegioData also found that there are no supermarkets in 28 per cent of Austria’s towns and communities.

Rewe International – the Austrian-based affiliate of Germany’s Rewe Group – is the number one on the domestic market ahead of Spar Austria and discounter Hofer. Rewe manages Billa, Adeg, Penny and Merkur shops. Hofer belongs to German company Aldi.

Billa chief Josef Siess recently stressed it would be “illusory” not to raise some product prices considering current developments such as increased speculations on foodstuff prices on international trade markets. Speaking to the Kurier newspaper, Siess vowed to keep the price hikes “moderate.”

Spar Austria said in February that it managed to increase its market share in Austria by one per cent to 29.5 per cent from 2009 to 2010. The firm explained it had a turnover of 5.15 billion Euros last year, up by 4.5 per cent compared to 2009. Spar Austria managed 1,502 stores in Austria’s nine provinces in 2010, eight more than in the year before.

Meanwhile, domestic agricultural branch authority Agrarmarkt Austria (AMA) claimed discount supermarkets “have reached their zenith.” The organisation found that Hofer and Lidl had an overall market share of around 20 per cent at the moment. AMA explained the chains grew strongly between 2003 and 2007 before their performance stagnated.