Our Companies, in a remarkable effort to adapt to the political, social and economic environment, reinforced their focus on competitiveness as a way to protect the consumer’s purchasing power and, consequently, volumes. As a result, consolidated sales reached 25.4 billion euros, an increase of 21.5% compared to 2021. While it is true that inflation also played a role in driving sales in value, our collective performance went far beyond the pure mathematical application of inflation rates. We remained firm in our commitment to be a force against inflation, with our Companies absorbing, in their margins, part of the increases in the costs of goods sold in order not to fully transfer them to the shelf prices. It is also this effort that is reflected in the reduction of 0.3 percentage points in the Group’s EBITDA margin compared to 2021.
Biedronka, that increased sales in złoty by 24.1%, with a like-for-like growth of 20.6%, launched the Anti-inflation Shield campaign, freezing the prices of 150 products during the first half of 2022. This resulted in an increase in shelf prices well below food inflation in Poland, which was of 15.4% for the year.
The Company also moved forward with new strategies to strengthen convenience, broaden the customer base, and deepen the relationship with consumers, launching a new app that was an immediate success, focusing on online shopping and fast deliveries, and creating Biedronka Home, an online store of non-food products.
Also in Poland, Hebe maintained its growth path based on the selective choice of the locations where it opens new stores and on the evolution of the digital platform, which represents 14% of the Company’s sales. By the end of 2022, online operations started in Czechia and Slovakia.
In Portugal, where food inflation reached an average of 13% in the year, the way consumers reacted to price increases was very visible, with a notorious trading down movement. To respond to this trend, Pingo Doce was always focused on containing the effect of price rises on families’ purchasing power, keeping an intense promotional activity throughout the year. The result was an 11.2% growth in sales, with like-for-like standing at 9.4%.
Pingo Doce ran two very relevant campaigns during the year, always focused on price: one, launched at the end of 2022, which recovered the 2021 prices in a series of essential products, and the other with “locked” prices during the first summer months.
Recheio managed to take good advantage of the dynamics of the HoReCa channel generated by the rebound in tourism. The Company’s commercial assertiveness allowed sales to grow 27.7%. One of the relevant facts of the year was the opening of an important new store, with a model based on increasingly convenient food solutions aimed at the professional hotel and restaurant market. Recheio is also taking care of its future growth in the traditional retail segment and has surpassed 500 Amanhecer stores by 2022.
In Colombia, Ara once again showed very strong growth momentum, and is already the third most relevant company for the Group in terms of sales, that grew 62.1% in Colombian pesos, with a like-for-like of 35.7% (food inflation for the year was of 25%). Ara’s evolution was driven by two strategic axes: on the one hand, investment in price, quality and differentiation of the offer; on the other hand, the acceleration of physical expansion, with the number of openings in the year significantly exceeding what was in the beginning of 2022.
A milestone in 2022 was the opening of the 1,000th store in Cartagena de Indias, less than a decade into our entry in Colombia. It is exactly now, in this March of 2023 when I write, that ten years have passed since the opening of the first Ara store. We are witnesses of the important development journey that Colombia has made in these years, of its economic evolution and of the strength of its institutions, and we are proud to grow with the country and contribute to the prosperity of its people.
Our global results, with a profit of 590 million euros (+27.5% vs. 2021) and an EBITDA of 1,854 million euros (+17%), in the context in which we operated in 2022, reflect the rigorous and attentive management at all levels of our organisation, and our transversal focus on protecting the market positions and the relevance of our brands in their respective markets. Our high level of commitment to investing in our businesses contributed decisively to these results.