SPAR to acquire Idea, Mercator and Roda in Serbia?

The Dutch supermarket chain SPAR will enter the Serbian market by acquiring Mercator S in our country – the Vecernje Novosti informally finds out.

This option, allegedly, was circulating since the onset of the crisis in Agrokor, but it was abandoned due to the big problems that the Croatian giant, which manages Mercator S that consists of Idea and Roda, has been suffering from.

However, since both the European HQ of Sberbank, which is the owner of Agrokor is in Vienna, just as SPAR’s seat for Central and Eastern Europe, it is very likely that negotiations are underway for Agrokor’s retail business in Serbia to be handed over to SPAR.

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The source of the Vecernje Novosti claims that Sberbank has no interest in “stacking supermarket shelves” in Serbia, so it will most likely come to the final agreement with SPAR. The Dutch retailer usually enters new markets via acquisitions unlike their competitors, Lidl which is more in favour of greenfield investments.

Yesterday, Bostjan Brantusa, SPAR’s expansion and development manager, confirmed for that the problems with Agrokor had an indirect influence on SPAR’s decision to come to Serbia since the company saw an opportunity for them in the Serbian market.

“This has absolutely had bearing on SPAR’s decision and the company decided to take the initiative because the situation is right for that. On one hand, we have 20 new stores following the acquisition of Billa so, in the past two years, SPAR has grown from ten stores to 100. On the other hand, as someone that operates in real estate and retail segment, we are looking for an opportunity to use that fact to our advantage”, Brantusa said.

Nevertheless, as with everything, one needs to be patient and wait for concrete decisions, since Lidl has been announcing for years, says economist Dragovan Milicevic.

“This information surprised me too,” Milicevic said. “Spar” is a commercial chain of higher category, both in terms of price and quality in comparison to Lidl and other stores. Something like Mercator. However, despite having a bigger assortment of goods, the products on their shelves are will be mostly imported. Just like Lidl procures at least 70 percent of its products from its parent companies, which are outside of Serbia. Only the Slovenians have managed to have a good part of the assortment of domestic origin. Thus, what will happen here is that we are going to have another supermarket chain that will take the money generated here abroad without engaging additional capacities in Serbia. SPAR will certainly not bring lower prices here”, Milicevic adds.

Commenting on the claims that SPAR might acquire Mercator S, Milicevic says that that is quite possible.  If they have an external development, there certainly is a chance and desire to buy Mercator, he adds. “However, I think they will have to adapt to domestic purchasing power. Lidl doesn’t have the same prices in Slovakia, Slovenia or Greece. It is quite possible that SPAR will not be more affordable than Lidl or DIS”, Milicevic concludes.

From small shop to empire

The SPAR supermarket chain was founded in the Netherlands in 1932. Their international development started in 1947 when they opened their first store in Belgium. Today, they have close to 16,000 shops in 34 countries. SPAR is the largest supermarket chain is in Austria, where a branch for Central and Eastern Europe was established in 2007, based in Vienna.

(Vecernje Novosti, 26.09.2018)




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