France-based Leclerc said its sales (including VAT but excluding petrol) increased by 1.5% to €37.75bn in its 2018 financial year. The retailer said its Drive stores underpinned performance, with its grocery-focused bricks and mortar sites showing limited growth in sales.
Drive underpinning performance
Leclerc said sales rose by 6.9% at its Drive stores, a slow down on the 10.3% increase in 2017. Despite the slow down versus the previous year, Drive still accounted for 59.2% of the total sales growth generated by Leclerc in 2018, versus a share of 30% in 2017. Some of the additional growth from Leclerc’s Drive stores was aided by the opening of 33 new Drive sites during 2018, but underlined the ‘success of [its] multichannel strategy’.
By contrast, Leclerc said its grocery-oriented stores had seen sales rise by only 0.1%. Leclerc noted the success of its organic ranges, which now account for 4.2% of total sales, and its Marque Repère private label brand, where sales rose 1.2%. The company noted the challenging market environment in France, especially the first three quarters where it lost market share. However, the group’s president, Michel-Edouard Leclerc, noted that ‘the last quarter ended with a very positive boost for the E.Leclerc centers’. At the end of 2018, Leclerc operated 691 hypermarkets and supermarkets and 652 Drives in France.
Meanwhile at its specialist stores, which includes drugstores, pet stores and vehicle accessories, sales increased by 4.2%. Leclerc operated 1,924 specialist stores at the end of 2018.
Group international sales reach €39bn
Leclerc said total international sales across all its operations, excluding fuel, reached €39bn in 2018. Outside of France it operated a further 99 stores, with 11 in Spain and operations in Poland and Portugal too.
Sales rose in Poland, despite Sunday trading ban
In a separate announcement, the president of E Leclerc Polska, Jean-Philippe Magré, said sales at its operations in the country rose 3.89% to PLN2.91bn (US$759.6m) in 2018, despite the introduction of a Sunday trading ban in the country. The growth was supported by the expansion of its network during 2018, which saw Frac’s 16 stores join the Galec purchasing group in July.
Magré said the performance was particularly positive given that in 2017 Sunday trading had accounted for 7% of total sales. He noted that to limit the effects of the ban Leclerc had operated ‘strong promotional activities and extensive marketing campaigns’ during the rest of the week to drive traffic to stores. The promotions were focused on fresh products, including meat, fruit and dairy products, and moved the offers from the weekend to Thursday.