The Serbian NCA has recently conducted a sector inquiry into the Serbian retail food market. The NCA has now published some of its findings, which contain interesting information about the structure of the market.

During the course of the sector inquiry, the NCA approached more than 500 undertakings active on the Serbian food retail market. In this context, the retail of food also includes beverages, cigarettes, and other products commonly found in supermarkets. Combined, the undertakings examined by the Commission have more than 5.5 thousand retail stores across the country.

According to the findings of the NCA, Serbian retailers have at their disposal around one million square meters of retail space. Stores with larger retail area appear to dominate – mid-size stores, with the area of between 400 and 2,000 square meters, take up 34% of the total retail area in the country. The largest type of stores, with more than 2,000 square meters each, take up additional 24%.

However, small stores are still a significant part of the Serbian retail market. Specifically, the average area of a retail store in Serbia is 195 square meters, even though stores with less than 200 square meters take up only 36% of the total retail area in the country.

When it comes to market leaders, there was little surprise when the NCA revealed that the two leading retailers are Delhaize (which entered the Serbian market in 2011, by acquiring a local chain “Maxi”) and Agrokor’s Serbian subsidiaries. In Serbia, Agrokor’s retail operates under several brands, including Idea and Mercator.

So, who is the market leader in Serbia, Delhaize or Agrokor? It depends on the criterion.

Based on revenues, it’s Delhaize, with around 21% of the market, followed by Agrokor with around 16%. All other market players are significantly smaller – for instance, the retailers placed third, fourth and fifth, respectively, all have a share of only between three and four percent.

Based on retail area, the leader is Agrokor, with 21%, followed by Delhaize with 17.5%. The third retailer by retail area (Aman) lags significantly behind, with around seven percent.

In its analysis, the NCA also briefly turned to barriers to entry into the market. As two most significant barriers, the NCA singled out low purchase power of Serbian consumers and a lack of locations for new retail stores.

At the moment, the NCA has published only the first part of its findings. More about this sector inquiry can be expected soon.