Global consultancy Deloitte says revenue at the world’s 250 biggest retailers has risen despite ongoing economic weakness.
The Global Powers Of Retailing report by Deloitte reveals turnover at the world’s top 250 retailers rose 4.9 per cent to $US4.3 trillion ($4.75 trillion) last financial year.
US giant Wal-Mart easily retains its spot as the world’s biggest retailer, with revenue of $US469 billion in 2012.
British-based global supermarket chain Tesco was a long way behind in second place with $US101 billion in revenues, with US warehouse-style store Costco third at $US99 billion, and France’s Carrefour fourth turning over just under $US99 billion.
Deloitte partner David White says part of that growth for many of the major retailers has been driven by investing in overseas markets, including in Australia.
“One of the ways in which we’ve seen the top retailers do that is actually expand overseas, and I think that we’ve all seen that in Australia with some of the big players coming through here,” he told ABC News Breakfast.
“So around about 25 per cent of the global revenue from these top retailers actually comes from overseas operations.”
Foreign retail wave lapping Australian shores
That globalisation of retailing is set to continue, with more top international retailers poised to open stores in Australia over the next two years, further increasing competition for domestic businesses.
Deloitte partner David White says Japan’s Uniqlo and Sweden’s H&M are set to open in Australia, with the British chain Next also believed to be mulling an Australian debut after testing the market online.
“The rise of online has had a huge impact, so one of the ways they do it is actually test the market through online,” he observed.
“They’ll see whether Australian consumers are interested in their products, what sort of buying patterns they have, what times they buy, etc, and by collating that information they have much better information on how to set up in the country.”
However, while some Australian retailers are on the back foot, the Deloitte study shows that supermarket, fuel and discount department store giants Woolworths and Wesfarmers held firm inside the global top 20 biggest retailers by turnover.
Woolworths was ranked 17 in 2011 and had risen to world number 15 by 2012; Wesfarmers – which owns Coles, Liquorland, Kmart, Target, Officeworks and Bunnings – slipped one spot from 18 to 19.
Asian expansion ‘offers great opportunities’
After a decade of strong retail growth prior to the financial crisis, the Deloitte report observes that many Australian retailers have remained exclusively focused on the domestic market, leading to stagnant revenues now that local consumers have tightened their wallets.
Deloitte says emerging Asian markets with rapidly growing middle classes represent an opportunity to Australian retailers who are familiar with Asian supply chains and have the advantage of geographical proximity.
Although the consultancy warns there are risks if expansions are mishandled.
“Whilst overseas expansion offers great opportunities for growth, it comes with serious risks if the wrong choices are made in terms of market, strategy, entry method, product and location,” the report noted.
“What Australian retailers do have though, is the advantage of hindsight – there is no shortage of success stories and failures to learn valuable lessons from the experiences of others.”
So far only a couple of local retailers have made the plunge, with Deloitte citing Cotton On and Oroton as two local stores that have successfully branched out into Asia.