Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Mercator in Better Shape Now than Before Its Acquisition by Agrokor

ZAGREB, March 6, 2019 - Slovenia's Mercator retail chain is in a better shape today than in the period before Agrokor bought it, the conglomerate emergency administrator, Fabris Peruško told Slovenia's STA news agency, and expresses hope that the company will be successfully integrated in the new Agrokor, or as it will be named, Fortenova as of April 1.

"When we bought Mercator, it was not a healthy company and Agrokor gave it an important injection to survive," Peruško said and added that the problem in operations after the merger emerged later.

"The problem was that Mercator and Agrokor didn't jointly create a platform on which they would be healthy partners for their suppliers, however, Fortenova will resolve some essential obstacles in business operations and quality partnerships with suppliers will be made, which is a great opportunity for cooperation to continue," Peruško told STA.

He added that he was cooperating well with Slovenia's Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek and commented on frequent speculation in Slovenia's media according to which Slovenian banks, as Mercator's creditors, might withdraw its support from Mercator entering the Fortenova system due to alleged danger that money could be siphoned from the Slovenian retail chain, which was one of the reasons why the Slovenian government adopted a law dubbed Lex Mercator, and appointed its own emergency administrator in Mercator's management board.

The current situation is such that Agrokor's receivables from Mercator are in fact higher than its claims towards the conglomerate and it is not true that Agrokor is siphoning money from Mercator, Peruško said and added that the foundation for future cooperation between Mercator and the core company are "healthy synergic relations," and not mutual exhaustion.

The largest Croatian food and retail chain took over Mercator in 2014.

More news about Agrokor can be found in the Business section.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Shopping in Slovenia or Croatia - Which Country Pays Off?

Croatia's infamous VAT is throwing prices around much more than one might expect at first when shopping in Lidl or Spar. Just how does your weekly shop in Croatia compare to a weekly shop in neighbouring Slovenia?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 5th of March, 2019, when taking a walk through six Slovenian and Croatian shops, it didn't take long to realise that retailers are struggling with their own branded goods, which are already sold at relatively low prices, and they could actually save well on them.

The popular Italian retail chain Eurospin, known for its discount prices, hasn't yet opened its doors in Croatia, but it can be revealed that the retail companty is indeed looking for locations for its stores across the country. It also has its own website in Croatian language on which the following has been published: "Still a little more patience ... We're coming."

A group of 24sata journalists from Croatia visited their store in Laško in neighbouring Slovenia to check if their prices really are lower than their competitors, and what prices were in comparison to the Croatian market.

They selected a basket of fourteen different products and compared then - Eurospin was cheaper than the first competitor in Slovenia by just a few lipa.

They also compared the prices in Slovenian stores with those in Croatia - some shopping baskets are very much the same, and the difference between the cheapest Slovenian product and the most expensive Croatian one is 22 kuna. However, it should be borne in mind that Slovenians have two tax rates applied when it comes to retail - 22 and 9.5 percent, and they also have a lower VAT rate (surprise, surprise) than is applied in Croatia, of 25 and 13 percent.

Eurospin appears very similar to the already popular Lidl.

When comparing the cheapest Slovenian and cheapest Croatian basket, the difference is 10.82 kuna. There were, as stated, forteen different products in the basket. When looking around on February the 25th of this year, the group of Croatian journalists visited the popular Slovenian shops including Eurospin, Lidl, Spar, and Mercator, the majority owner of which is Croatia's formerly ailing Agrokor.

They tried to find the cheapest products (flour, oil, butter...). When comparing detergents and softeners, they looked for products that were cheaper per litre, regardless of the size of the packaging, ie, whether the product volume is one, two, four litres...

Their cart showed that Eurospin was actually slightly more expensive than Croatia's beloved Lidl, at least on that day - by 2.30 kuna, Spar was cheaper by 3.60 kuna, and Mercator was cheaper by a not so insignificant 21.53 kuna.

Eurospin and Lidl have been shown to have relatively similar prices, and according to their trade concept, each reminds one of the other. Spar, which had the biggest store in Laško, had similar and sometimes identical prices as those in Eurospin. Only Mercator was considerably more expensive than the others, but their overall offer, just like at Spar, was much richer than that of Lidl and Eurospin.

The Italian discount store, just like Lidl, often only offers its own brands on it shelves, or products made by only one manufacturer - for example, only one type of oil, one type of sugar, one type of flour, etc.

The 24sata journalists compared the products purchased over in Slovenia to those in Lidl and Spar in Zagreb the following day, once again searching for the cheapest of all.

The most expensive shopping basket in Zagreb was from Lidl and it was 13.67 kuna more expensive than Eurospin in Slovenia. Let's remember, it should be taken into account that VAT in Croatia is higher certainly has a big influence over Croatian prices. The cheapest basket was from Spar in Zagreb, but when compared to Eurospin in Slovenia, it was still more expensive - by 8.52 kuna.

Make sure to stay up to date by following our dedicated business page.


Click here for the original article by Ivancica Ladisic and Katarina Dimitrijevic Hrnjkas for 24sata

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Slovenia Wants Mercator to Be Freed from Croatia's Agrokor

ZAGREB, February 3, 2019 - Slovenia's government does not plan to get back Mercator, however, it wants to take this retail company from the embrace of the Zagreb-headquartered Agrokor concern, and Slovenian Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek told the local media on Saturday that the Croatian conglomerate proved to be a poor manager.

"We want to make sure that Mercator will have a more stable business future and create conditions for finding a new owner who will overhaul the company. However, the Slovenian government is not going to buy it back, contrary to some speculations which have recently appeared," the minister told the Maribor-based Većer newspaper.

Počivalšek said that in 2014 when it took over Mercator, Agrokor was actually over-indebted and later it became insolvent, however, the Slovenian minister does not believe that the current Agrokor, which has been restructured, can be a good manager of Mercator.

He also believes that now it is the right time to seek a new owner for Mercator which employs about 10,000 in Slovenia and which annually purchases a half billion products from local suppliers.

The minister refuses to speculate whether some Slovenian companies may be interested in purchasing Mercator from Agrokor now when Russia's Sberbank hinted at the possibility that it would sell its stake in the Croatian concern.

More news on Agrokor can be found in the Business section.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Sberbank Negotiating Mercator-Agrokor Shares Swap

ZAGREB, May 29, 2018 - Russia's Sberbank is negotiating a swap of its 18.5% stake in Slovenian retailer Mercator for a stake in Mercator's parent company Agrokor, two sources close to the negotiations told Bloomberg, as reported by Russian business media.