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Not a bad recession for global food retailers


The world's largest grocery retailers did pretty well during the worst year of the recession compared to other retailers. That's according to the annual Deloitte Global Powers report, which tracks progress of the world's 250 largest retailers.

The report found that in 2009 food and fast-moving consumer goods retailers (FMCG) saw their sales rise 1.7%, versus 1.3% for the entire list of Top 250 retailers. Food retailers also managed to boost their net profit margin to 2.5%, from 2% in 2008. 

"Food retailers' relative resilience in recessionary times allowed the FMCG sector to increase both its share of companies (on the Top 250 list) and its hare of sales," the report's authors at Deloitte said.

The composite retail sales growth for food and consumer goods retailers in the five-year period from 2004 to 2009 was 6.5%, versus 6.1% for retailers in general. The retailer with the highest composite growth was Australia's Wesfarmers Limited. The discount, convenience, drug and supermarket chain grew 62.3%.

The Canadian chains with the highest growth from 2004 to 2009 were convenience store operator Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. (up 15.4%) and Metro Inc. (up 13.3%).

The largest food and fast-moving consumer goods retailer in the world remains Walmart with US$405 billion in sales worldwide in 2009. The second-largest is France's Carrefour at $119.8 billion, followed by Tesco at $90 billion, Germany's Schwarz Group at $77 billion and Kroger in the U.S. at $76.7 billion.

Of the largest 250 retailers in the world, Loblaw Companies was ranked as the biggest Canadian firm–No. 40 on the list. Second largest from Canada is Couche-Tard Inc (No. 48). Sobeys parent company Empire came in 58th, Metro in 87th, and Shoppers Drug Mart in 99th spot.

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