Supermarket wars: Lidl dominates with 20% of sector’s turnover

German international discount supermarket chain Lidl accounts for over 20% of turnover generated through retail sales in non-specialised stores 

The corner shop was once at the top of the pyramid in the Maltese retail landscape but now mega-markets are dominating the industry.

A proliferation of large supermarkets over the past two decades shows no sign of abating with 10 planning applications for new facilities still up for consideration.

MaltaToday looked at the financials of several popular supermarkets to find out who’s winning the sales war and who’s being left behind in the process.

The figures reveal that 12 popular supermarket chains account for half of all turnover generated through retail sales in non-specialised stores – Lidl accounts for 23% of this. Pama is a far second, with 5.7% of the sector’s turnover.

Lidl enjoy the highest absolute turnover value with €170 million, which is over three times the turnover generated by Pama. Naturally, the German discount store generated the largest pre-tax profit volume at €30 million, and enjoys the highest net worth of €100 million.

Among the 12 supermarket chains analysed, Lidl dominates by a wide margin. Its turnover accounts for 42% of all turnover generated by those supermarkets, followed by Pama with 11%.

Lidl operates eight supermarkets and is in the process of acquiring four more outlets from the family-run Scotts chain for €35 million. The transaction is currently under evaluation by the Competition Office.

Lidl had been awarded a €13 million loan from the European Investment Bank to commence operations in Malta with the first discount store opening its doors in 2008.

Pooling resources

But the market also appears to be moving towards some form of consolidation.

Seven supermarket companies, last year, formed a joint venture under Retail Marketing Ltd in what appears to be an attempt to pool resources.

Prior to the Office for Competition green-lighting the venture it embarked on an analysis of the relevant market, including a survey of consumer patterns in the sector.

In their analysis, they found that Lidl was the preferred supermarket for around 27% of respondents who do their main shopping from a variety of supermarkets. For those who shop consistently at the same supermarket, the preferred option was PAVI/PAMA, with 24% of respondents opting for those outlets.

Lidl has undoubtedly built a reputation as one of Malta’s foremost discount stores. Nearly 80% of respondents agreed that Lidl is a discount store, and 90% of Lidl customers perceive the supermarket’s products as being cheaper than those of rival companies. Further to this, 70% of Lidl customers found Lidl’s promotions to be more attractive than those offered by other supermarkets.

A MaltaToday survey in 2016 showed similar results. Nearly half of all respondents bought most frequently from Lidl outlets. In second place, 15% of respondents answered that Pavi was their most frequented supermarket.

While Lidl clearly dominates in popularity, it’s often not the only supermarket customers buy from. In MaltaToday survey, 63% of respondents who shopped from Lidl also shopped at other supermarkets.


Revenue from operations were the focus of the evaluation. Due to limitations on the information available, some figures reflect 2017’s operations while others are a snapshot of the company’s 2018 financial position. Only Lidl’s financial values reflect 2019.

To calculate turnover share, we used the total turnover value for retail sale in non-specialised stores as a whole, and with food and beverages as the predominant selling product in the unit.

Retail sale in non-specialised stores include the retail sale of a variety of product lines within a singular unit, including supermarkets or department stores. Turnover here comprises all market sales of goods or services supplied to third parties, including duties and taxes, and all other charges to customers.

Pending supermarket applications

  1. Birkirkara at Triq Dun Karm (bypass) - Clement Gauci
  2. Attard at Triq il-Linja/Triq Ant. Schembri/Triq Il-Mitna - Said Investments of Scotts
  3. Naxxar near former trade fair - Jean Borg
  4. Zebbug on SMW Cortis site – Lidl
  5. Zabbar at Marsaskala bypass - redevelopment of Chef Choice
  6. Mosta Josmar complex near Lidl – Peprina Ltd
  7. Burmarrad at Triq Burmarrad c/w, Triq is-Sardin - Bonnici Brothers
  8. Marsa at Triq Aldo Moro instead of Bezzina shipyard
  9. San Gwann at Triq tal-Balal - JDG Holdings Ltd (Joe Cassar)
  10. Victoria at Triq Fortunato Mizzi c/w, Triq ta' Viani - Walter Farrugia

Approved but yet to be constructed

Mriehel at Gasan's Quad Towers

Refused but pending appeal

Fgura at Tax- Xemx u l-Qamar  - Lidl