Wesfarmers, Woolworths listed amongst top 30 global retailers

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 19th January 2010

Australia’s two largest supermarket operators, Woolworths and Wesfarmers, have been listed in the world’s top 30 retail companies, according to the Deloitte Global Powers of Retailing 2010 report.

The report, which identifies the 250 largest retailers by revenue for the fiscal year 2008 (encompasses fiscal years ended through June 2009), lists Woolworths in 26th position and Wesfarmers in 28th position. The two ASX-listed giants get the bulk of their revenue from supermarkets although they also own retail brands like Big W, Dan Murphy’s, Officeworks and Bunnings.

Despite a small drop of four places from the previous year (22nd in 2009), Woolworths was ranked 11th in the world for the highest market capitalisation to assets ratio (also known as the Q ratio).

Wesfarmers, whose acquisition of Coles in November 2007 helped advance their 2003-08 compound growth rate by 62.7% (the second largest globally), jumped eight positions (36th in 2009 and 176th in 2008).

Both Australian retailers are in third and fourth places respectively in the Asia-Pacific top ten – which was dominated by Japanese retailers.

Andrew Griffiths, Audit partner and Deloitte’s Consumer Business leader, said the two Australian firms did exceptionally well in a difficult year for the global retail industry.

“Woolworths and Wesfarmers punch above their weight and have weathered the global economic storm better than most retail companies globally. Their respective listing in the top 30 retailers globally is extraordinary given our relatively small population,” he suggested. “The other companies in the top 30 originate mainly from heavily populated countries such as the United States, Germany, UK, Japan and France. And if you add the fact the most of those also operate in multiple countries, unlike Woolworths and Wesfarmers, you get a far better appreciation of the way Australian retailers fare.”

Globally: retail sales grow, but profits take a hit

Despite one of the sharpest economic contractions in decades, the world’s largest retailers were able to increase sales by 5.5% in fiscal year 2008, with total retail sales equalling around $3.8 trillion. However, the report shows that the global financial crisis affected retailers’ bottom line as profitability fell from 3.7 per cent to just 2.4 per cent.

Two-thirds of the 184 retailers that disclosed their bottom-line results saw their net profit margin decline in 2008, with 30 retailers operating at a loss.

The composition of the Top 10 retailers in the world remained the same this year and this group now accounts for over 30 per cent of the total retail sales of the Top 250 retailers.

Walmart remained the world’s largest retailer, ahead of Carrefour, Metro and Tesco. Indeed, Walmart’s position of number one is likely to remain unchallenged for decades with sales ($401b) more than three times the next largest.

Two relatively new entrants to Australia, Costco and Aldi, also made the top ten, coming at at places eight and nine, respectively.