Rewe Austria claims market share leap

Rewe Austria has managed to increase its market share, according to a report issued by the company.

Rewe Austria boss Frank Hensel said yesterday (Thurs) that his firm – which manages leading supermarket Billa, discounter Penny and other chains – had a domestic market share of 35 per cent last year. “We managed to keep clearly ahead. We even extended our leading position,” he said.

Rewe Austria officials said the food sector company achieved a turnover of 7.47 billion Euros last year, up by 6.26 per cent compared to 2010. The firm, which is part of the German Rewe Group, is engaged in a tough battle with Spar Austria. Rewe Austria, Spar Austria and discounter Hofer – which is managed by German low-cost giant Aldi Süd – have a market share of 80 per cent in Austria altogether.

While Rewe Austria benefits from the solid performance its drugstore chain affiliate Bipa, Spar Austria tries to rake in money outside the food sector industry with its European Shopping Center (SES) Group and sports equipment enterprise Hervis. Intersport, Sports Experts and Sport 2000 are some of Hervis’ key competitors.

Spar Austria has a market share on the Austrian supermarket sector of 29 per cent, according to CEO Gerhard Drexel. There were 5,000 supermarkets altogether in Austria in 2011, according to a RegioPlan investigation. The analysis group said Billa, Spar Austria and their rivals ran 5,700 stores in 2004. They are now focusing on network optimisation measures such as renovations instead of continuing their expansion, RegioPlan explained.

Zielpunkt, which had a rather difficult time in the past years, tries not to go under in the intense domestic competition. The firm manages 300 stores. It has around 3,000 employees. Zielpunkt had a turnover of 540 million Euros in 2011. The company was taken over by Jan Satek. The businessman was assigned by German-Luxembourgian investment firm BluO two years ago to get it back on track. Now he has decided to buy Zielpunkt. Satek – who wants to raise the annual turnover to 560 million Euros in 2012 – said he transferred a “seven-digit figure” to acquire the company in full.

Meanwhile, the Austrian Competition Authority (BWB) waits for the green light to look into company-internal documents it confiscated at Rewe Austria’s headquarters earlier this month. A team of investigators searched the firm’s offices in Wiener Neudorf for eight days to find out whether bosses engaged in illegal price fixing. Rewe Austria said the various files and data tracks must be sealed. Now a Viennese High Court (OLG) panel has to decide whether BWB experts are allowed to examine the documents.

BWB boss Theo Thanner recently caused a stir by organising a press conference about the ongoing examinations. He said there was “strong evidence” indicating that Rewe Group’s Austrian subsidiary company participated in illicit pricing arrangements. Business papers claim that Rewe Austria and some rivals might have fixed beer and coffee prices.