Discount Retail Chain Biedronka, owned by Portuguese Jeronimo Martins, will soon appear on the next market, such as the Czech Republic (the retail chain Hebe, also owned by Jeronimo Martins, is already active in Slovakia), or Romania, where a few years ago the Jeronimo Martins group tried to buy the Profi grocery retail chain. In the South there is also Bulgaria, and in the East there is Ukraine, where the war will end one day.
We believe that an acquisition attempt will appear on the side of Biedronka quite quickly. Building a position from scratch gives the opportunity to standardize, but quickly catching the scale and profitability is extremely important for this business. A quick launch of 100 or even 150 stores will have priority. If in the first year the operator launches a dozen or so stores, and in the following years it accelerates to several dozen (25-40), it will be possible to say that the network has properly prepared for expansion and has a chance for success.
Slovakia has a population of 5.4 million inhabitants. The market, compared to Poland, is small, but next to Poland. The Biedronka brand is very recognizable in Slovakian border regions, the discounter can also draw many synergies with domestic business (operations and logistics or assortment (which of course will have to be adapted accordingly).
Due to its format, Biedronka can be in Slovakia, a so-called game changer. In Poland, the company is opening not only 600-1000 sq m stores, but for several years it has been opening several dozen stores with an area of 400-500 sq m. dedicated to smaller towns and rural areas. If the Biedronka decides to replicate competitor`s grocery retailer Dino's strategy on the Slovak market, it can win.
In this context, it is worth taking a look at the chains that dominate there, i.e. the aforementioned Lidl, Tesco, Kaufland, Billa and Makro. Most of them are large hypermarket and supermarket formats. Biedronka knows them all perfectly, which is also not without significance for the success of this mission.
Who will stop Ladybug?
Is there anyone who can stop the expansion of Biedronka to the South and its conquest of the Slovak market? There it is! The real competition for Biedronka will be Coop Jednota. This grocery network of cooperatives generated in 2021 a turnover of over EUR 1.6 billion and currently manages around 2,000 stores throughout Slovakia, mainly in rural areas and smaller towns.
An extremely efficient and dynamic operator, whose role on the Slovak market can be compared to Dino. Biedronka has its own loyalty program, develops its own private label brands, but above all offers its customers modern stores with a good shopping experience.
Will Biedronka disappear Tesco?
And what will happen to Tesco? According to one of the experts, the British operator is one of the largest, but at the same time the weakest market participants in Slovakia. The entry of Biedronka may be one of the key factors that will make Tesco disappear not only from Slovakia (after Tesco left Poland), but also from the whole of Europe Central. Of course, the main reason will be what caused the company's problems in Poland, i.e. the lack of quick adaptation to changing conditions and duplication of strategies from the British market.