Austrian supermarket chain Billa, which already employs 4500 people in Bulgaria, plans to open between eight and ten new stores in three cities – Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna. This move is expected to raise revenue by 9-10 per cent and create between 320 and 450 new jobs, with every new store employing approximately 40-50 people.
Boyko Sachanski, director of Billa’s operations in Bulgaria, said that the opening of new branches across the country, as well as the complimentary increase in the number of customers (over 1.3 million a week) and customer spending (13 leva on average), are to thank for the company’s revenue growth so far.
In 2017, Billa opened eight new branches, three of which were in Sofia’s shopping centres, and two new branches have already opened in 2018 so far. This brings the total number of Billa stores to 120 in 37 towns, making it the retailer with the highest number of branches across the entire country. Profits in 2017 amounted to over 854 million leva, a 9.2 per cent increase on 2016.
Despite Billa’s expansion, it remains the third largest retailer in the country, after Lidl and Kaufland, who have also boasted increases in revenue. According to data from ICAP Bulgaria, Kaufland’s revenues are by far the highest between 2015 and 2017, whereas T Market, owned by Lithuanian Maxima Group, had the fastest growth in revenues in 2016 and 2017. Billa, as part of German-based REWE Group, has stores in Russia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Ukraine, as well as in its native Austria. The revenue in these markets has increased by 10.4 per cent and 631 new stores were opened.
Previously, Billa was present in Croatia, Hungary, Poland and Romania but all of those had since been sold to other supermarket chains, such as Spar in Hungary and Croatia, E.Leclerc in Poland and Carrefour in Romania.