Despite tough economic conditions, revenues for the world’s 250 largest retailers reached US$4.3 trillion in the last fiscal year (June 2012 through June 2013). The average size of the top 250 retailers exceeded $17 billion according to the 2014 Global Powers of Retailing report from Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL), in conjunction with STORES Media.
For the first time ever, the report also includes a list of the world’s top 50 e-retailers and found that more than three-quarters of them (39 companies) are part of the top 250 retailers globally.
“The global retail industry got off to a difficult start in the last year,” said Dr. Ira Kalish, DTTL Chief Global Economist. “However, it is encouraging to see that the world’s leading retailers were able to plough on through the difficult period to reap the rewards of increased consumer spend. This has served to provide a much needed boost to global revenues with nearly 80 percent of the top 250 (199 companies) retailers posting an increase in retail revenue. Interestingly, for the first time this year’s report shows that some of the top retailers undertook a series of sell-offs in order to remain profitable and ride out the tough trading period,” Kalish added.
Divestments lead to a shake-up of the top 10 global retailers
There was a shake-up among the world’s 10 largest retailers last fiscal year, mostly as a result of a series of divestments. As a group, the top 10 grew more slowly than the top 250 the past fiscal year with retail revenue growth of 4.2 percent versus the 4.9 percent growth in the previous fiscal year.
While Wal-Mart increased its lead, Carrefour—formerly the world’s second-largest retailer—fell to fourth place following back-to-back years of declining sales primarily attributable to the spinoff of the Dia hard discount chain in July 2011. Tesco, which jumped this year to second place, was also impacted by discontinued operations after shuttering its Fresh & Easy operations in the United States.
Emerging markets enjoy strong demand while Europe increases dependence on foreign markets
Retailers based in emerging markets continued to enjoy strong consumer demand in fiscal year 2012. Unlike the headwinds retailers in mature markets faced, emerging market tailwinds continued to fuel aggressive organic growth.
Emerging market retailers accounted for more than half (26) of the world’s 50 fastest-growing retailers in fiscal year 2012 including all four Russian top 250 companies, six of seven Africa/Middle East retailers, and six of nine based in Latin America.
“Over recent years, the developing economies have emerged as one of the most promising retail markets,” says Vicky Eng, DTTL Global Sector Leader, Retail. “Latin American retailers led the way with 15 percent retail revenue growth followed by retailers in the Africa/Middle East region. Retailers are successfully adapting their strategies to adequately cater to the growing middle-class consumers in emerging economies where there is strong demand for consumer goods, ranging from cars and electronics to personal care products.”
European retailers faced another year of tough trading as the region fell back into recession when austerity measures, put in place to cope with the Eurozone credit crisis, resulted in low growth and high unemployment in many European countries. Retailers based in Germany and particularly the UK underperformed on the top line compared with Europe’s top 250 retailers as a whole.
In the United States, growth cooled to 4.3 percent for the top 250 U.S. retailers, down from 6.3 percent in fiscal year 2011. For the North American region as a whole, and Canada in particular, revenue growth got a boost from c-store operator and licensor Alimentation Couche-Tard. As a result of a significant acquisition in 2012, Couche-Tard is now the largest retailer based in Canada.
Asia/Pacific retailers (excluding Japan) posted solid gains, but not at the double-digit level seen in the prior two years. In Southeast Asia, retail sales are expected to continue to see positive growth in 2014 but at a slower rate compared to 2013.
“In Southeast Asia, the growth of the middle class has surged along with the levels of disposable income,” commented Eugene Ho, Deloitte Southeast Asia’s Consumer Business Industry Leader. “Complementing this is the recent completion of high quality retail space in emerging markets including Manila and Bangkok, which will draw retailers to the region with the new supply of prime retail space. Retailers already established in Southeast Asia will continue to focus in these emerging markets while those new to the region may prefer to use Singapore as the entry point.”
“Simultaneously, retailers have also been hit hard by the increasing cost to serve. Retail rental rates continue to increase although at a much slower rate towards the end of 2013. Price wars between retailers, intensified by the rise of online shopping, means that these costs cannot be passed on to consumers as was done in the past. Instead, retailers have to employ various methods of cost-cutting, such as floor space optimisation, improved logistical efficiency, employing location strategies that are focused on suburban areas, and leveraging on economies of scale,” says Ho.
Top 250 dominate e-retail ranking
E-commerce accounted for a significant share of total retail revenue for the e-50 in fiscal year 2012 accounting for nearly one-third of company sales, on average (including the pure-play e-retailers). The vast majority of the e-50 (42 companies) in the e-retail ranking are multi-channel retailers; only eight are non-store or web-only retailers. Most e-50 retailers are based in the United States (28) and Europe (17), and only five are emerging-market companies.
E-commerce activity was also analyzed for the top 250 as a whole. Top 250 companies with e-commerce operations generated an average 7.7 percent of their sales online in fiscal year 2012. From a regional perspective, e-commerce accounted for the largest share of revenue for North American retailers and the smallest for European retailers. Online sales grew fastest for Asia/Pacific retailers and slowest for North American retailers.