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mardi 12 mai 2009

Russian supermarkets : growth continues despite crisis

Quelques infos sur des sociétés présentes dans le fonds MEI Rusland Midcap Fund...

Despite the economic crisis which also hits Russia, Russian supermarkets continue to grow significantly. Especially large supermarket chains like Magnit and X5 Retail maintain their revenue targets and even see their profitability increasing. Moreover, these players are able to take advantage of the current situation.

Conservative players strike
As a result of a strong rise in disposable incomes of Russian citizens, the retail sector was able to grow rapidly. A large number of players, especially smaller ones, placed their bets on aggressive growth by means of external financing. However, due to the fact that (re-) financing is no option at this moment and growth is slowing, these players are now suffering. On the opposite, players who used a more conservative approach, and thus financed growth by using their own cash flows, take advantage of the situation. They are now able to take over their weak counterparts at very favorable conditions. During conversations between the fund management and a couple of supermarket chains, it became clear that these chains are very active in the search for takeover candidates. This approach is an excellent chance to increase market share.

High level of fragmentation gives rise to consolidation
The Russian supermarket sector is traditionally highly fragmented with the top-10 holding only 13.1% of total market. With annual revenues of EUR 6.3 billion, market leader X5 Retail, after the acquisition of Karousel, holds 3.2% market share. Russian number 2 Magnit has annual revenues of EUR 3.8 billion. In comparison: Albert Heijn reached annual revenues of EUR 9.0 billion in 2008. A consolidation in the sector is very likely and will most probably develop at a higher pace now.

Solid revenue figures during first quarter
Russian supermartket chains were able to report strong revenue growth during the first quarter, despite lower incomes for Russian households. Magnit showed the highest growth rate with 36.3% increase, X5 Retail followed with 28.0%. Dixy lagged behind with 19.0%, due to a reorganization of logistics. The reorganization led to supply problems to its stores during the first quarter. The chains informed that the current difficult economic circumstances for consumers are reflected in lower average tickets. Furthermore, a shift in consumer preferences in certain products is reported.

Opportunities arise in retail
Obviously, the economic crisis does affect the retail sector. But despite the threaths, huge opportunities can also be noted. A discounter like Dixy may benefit from a higher price sensitiveness of consumers. Furthermore, by undertaking well-aimed acquisitions, healthy chains may return stronger out of the crisis. The fund management acknowledges these developments and therefore holds investments in the supermarket chains Magnit (2.0% of fund size), Dixy (1.1%) and X5 Retail Group (0.9%). If necessary, positions will be increased in the near future.

(MEI - 06/05/09)

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