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South Africa’s biggest retailers: Woolworths vs Spar vs Pick n Pay vs Shoprite

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Professional services group Deloitte has published its annual Global Powers of Retail report for 2019, ranking the 250 biggest retail groups across the world – including four from South Africa.

The ranking is based on publicly available data for FY2017, covering fiscal years ended through June 2018. Deloitte analyses a company’s performance across geographies, sectors, and channels.

In previous years, five South African retailers were ranked, with the 2019 reporting marking the first time multinational retail group Steinhoff has dropped off the list, following its accounting fraud scandal that emerged in 2017/18.

With Steinhoff dropped, Shoprite has emerged as the biggest South African retailer on the list, with retail revenues growing from $10.34 billion to $11.29 billion.

While Shoprite is the largest retailer in the country, it’s still only ranked 86th, globally.

US wholesale and retail giant, Wal-Mart remains the biggest retail operation in the world, with retail revenue at a massive $500.34 billion – 44 times larger than Shoprite.

Walmart is also almost four times larger than its closest competitor in the rankings, Costco, which saw revenues of $129 billion in the year.

Online retailer was ranked fourth, with revenues totalling $118.6 billion, only just below the third-ranked Kroger Co., which had revenues just under $119 billion. Amazon has continued to climb the ranking over the past few years, and has shown a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18% since 2012.

Germany’s Schwarz Group rounds out the top five, with retail revenues of $111.8 billion.

According to Deloitte’s report, the top 20 biggest retailers in the world are dominated by US companies, with half the list coming from the States. Four German companies are listed, two Japanese companies, and one each from the UK, France, the Netherlands and China.

These are the top 20 biggest retailers in the world:

# Group Country Countries of operation Retail Revenue (US$m)
1 Wal-Mart Stores United States 29 500 343
2 Costco Wholesale Corp United States 12 129 025
3 The Kroger Co. United States 1 118 982
4 United States 14 118 573
5 Schwarz Group Germany 30 111 766
6 The Home Depot United States 4  100 904
7 Walgreens Boots Alliance United States 10 99 115
8 Aldi Einkauf Germany 18 98 287
9 CVS Health Corporation United States 3 79 398
10 Tesco United Kingdom 8 73 961
11 Ahold Delhaize Netherlands 10 72 312
12 Target Corp United States 1 71 879
13 Aeon Co Japan 11 70 072
14 Lowe’s Companies United States 3 68 619
15 Albertsons Companies United States 1 59 925
16 Auchan Holding France 14 58 614
17 Edeka Group Germany 1 57 484
18 Seven & I Holdings Japan 19 51 889
19 REWE Combine Germany 11 49 713
20 China  1 49 088

South African retailers

Among South Africa’s biggest retailers, Shoprite is followed by Spar, Pick n Pay, and then Woolworths. Shoprite ranked 86th overall – far ahead of Spar (140th) and Pick n Pay (160th) and Woolworths (179th), which were outside the top 100.

Over a five year period, Spar has shown the highest CAGR of 17.4%, with Woolworths following at an annual growth rate of 14.3%.

Shoprite’s CAGR since 2012 has been 9.4%, with Pick n Pay showing the lowest growth at 6.6% – though this is above local inflation.

Woolworths and Spar were both ranked among the fastest-growing retailers list published in the same report, with Spar ranking as the 29th fastest-growing retailers (out of 50), and Woolworths ranking 38th.

The table below outlines how South Africa’s biggest retailers compare in the Deloitte report.

# Retailer Countries FY2016 revenue FY2017 revenue % Change 5Y CAGR
86 Shoprite 15 9 038 11 294 25.0% 9.4%
140 Spar Group 12 6 195 7 252 17.1% 17.4%
160 Pick n Pay 7 5 436 6 225 14.5% 6.6%
179 Woolworths 14 4 518 5 332 18.0% 14.3%


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