by Hervé Lalau
At 26 litres per head each year, Belgians are keen on wine and tend to think that stores that select the best are good retailers. As it is difficult
for supermarkets to differentiate themselves with washing powder, except on price, the question of image explains the importance of wine in each Belgian retailer s communication. Last month most of them issued new figures for the previous year.
Delhaize Le Lion announced sales of 43 million bottles and a total value of 200 million Euros, excluding sparkling wines, which averages out to 4,65 a bottle. Its main competitor, Carrefour Belgium, announced sales of 40 million bottles of still wine, but did not provide any indication of the value. The third largest Belgian retailer, a discount operator, announced 50 million bottles and total sales of 200 million Euros, but these figures include sparkling wines. Considering its smaller number of stores, the regional chain Mestdagh-Champion performed quite well with 5 million bottles. Match, probably because its performance has not been good of late, Cora and Makro did not provide figures. Tax evasions being a national sport amongst professionals, the last two remain mum because they sell a great deal to restaurants that do not always declare their wine sales.
According to research institute Euromonitor, supermarkets and hypermarkets account for 69% of all official wine sales in Belgium and a full 82% if one adds the hard discount stores. In comparison, wine shops have only a marginal impact, with but 9% of sales. At the same time, the number of Belgians buying in France or Luxembourg is climbing up because of the lower sales tax. A conservative estimate gives them about 12% of total sales in 2005 figures.