The Austrian branch of multinational retail chain SPAR has reported that its food retail sales increased by 3.9% to €8.63bn ($9.5bn) in the financial year 2021 (FY21).

The figure is higher than the Austrian food retail industry’s estimated average decline of -0.3%.

SPAR Austria delivered a combined sales growth of 4.7% to €17.37bn across its three business areas, namely food retail, sports retail and shopping centres.

The company’s earnings before tax (EBT) were more than €334m, representing an EBT margin of 2.6%.

SPAR Austria Group currently operates a network of 3,291 stores and has more than 90,000 employees. It invested more than €750m during FY21.

The group consists of SPAR Austria, ASPIAG, Hervis and SES SPAR European Shopping Centres.

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Gross sales turnover in the company’s food retail business in Austria, Northern Italy, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia increased by 4% to €15.09bn from the prior year.

SPAR Austria’s store network includes 1,443 SPAR and EUROSPAR stores, 69 INTERSPAR Hypermarkets, and seven Maximarkt stores. Of these locations, 692 are operated by independent SPAR retailers.

The retailer opened around 50 stores and renovated more than 90 outlets during FY21.

In Northern Italy, Slovenia, Hungary and Croatia, SPAR reported a 4.9% growth in total sales to €6.45bn.

During the year, the retailer opened INTERSPAR Hypermarkets in Italy, Hungary and Croatia, taking its INTERSPAR Hypermarkets portfolio outside of Austria to 112 stores.

The company reported its e-commerce sales for FY21 grew by 60% in Slovenia, 16% in Hungary and 10% in Austria.

During FY21, SPAR opened a ‘fully digitalised’ wine warehouse in Loosdorf, Austria.

The warehouse uses novel storage technology and can process more than 2,500 orders a day.

A total of 20 jobs were created in its development.

In December last year, SPAR opened a supermarket in Ivančna Gorica, Slovenia. The store was the company’s 110th in the country.