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Year in Review

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"For the first time, the Group exceeded – by far – the 20-billion-euro milestone."

As I write this message that accompanies and introduces our 2021 Annual Report, we have entered the second week of the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian armed forces. This military aggression has brought back the nightmare of war in Europe, as the world sees an escalation of ceaseless violence that includes civilian targets.

The severe economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the Western world and much of the rest of the world (including Australia and Japan, for example) are multiplying, isolating the country. The suspension of trade relations, the withdrawal of investment, the removal of Russian and Belarusian products from shelves (as our companies Biedronka and Hebe in Poland have done), the ban on all Russian aircraft and private planes from operating in and over the European and US space, and the removal of Russian banks from the SWIFT payment network are just some of the reactions expressing outrage at Russia’s actions. Also of note are the growing number of complaints filed with the International Criminal Court by 39 nations calling for an investigation into alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide perpetrated by Russian forces in Ukraine, particularly in the cities of Kyiv, Kharkiv and Kherson.

With only a few days since the start of the aggression, it is too early to determine the full extent of the humanitarian and economic consequences in the short, medium, and long term. But it is already clear that the impacts will go far beyond the regional scale. At the moment, the immediate priority is to give as much support as possible to refugees, which the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates to be more than 2 million people.

From the outset, Poland, which borders Ukraine and Russia, as well as Belarus, has been leading the efforts to welcome and support those fleeing the war. To date, and despite the ever-increasing numbers, it is estimated that more than 1.2 million refugees have entered Poland, and hundreds of hospitals have been placed on alert across the country, ready to receive the injured.

Poland and Ukraine have very close ties. Before this crisis, the Ukrainian community in Poland already exceeded one million people, easily integrated into the labour market and the country. Biedronka, for example, employs around 1,800 Ukrainian employees and to whom it immediately made a non-repayable contribution of 1,000 złoty to support their families.

This mutual relationship and understanding also underpin Poland’s enormous solidarity that the world is witnessing. Poles are sparing no effort to help Ukrainians, which naturally includes all our teams, who are fully engaged in these efforts.

In a few days, Biedronka and the Biedronka Foundation have already channelled the equivalent of 10 million złoty (over 2 million euros) to provide food and non-food support for Ukrainian refugees, implemented in collaboration with non-governmental organisations particularly active on the ground. The Biedronka Foundation also received 2.5 million euros from Sociedade Francisco Manuel dos Santos, the largest shareholder of Jerónimo Martins, to support the accommodation of refugees. And at the Group level, we announced the donation of 5 million euros, split equally among five Polish humanitarian aid institutions: the Red Cross, Caritas, Humanitarian Action, the Medical Mission, and the SOS Children’s Villages in Poland.

In short, we were able to quickly raise the equivalent of about 9.5 million euros to help people who are fleeing the war.

Also, in Portugal, our main companies – Pingo Doce and Recheio – immediately offered to participate in the collective effort to receive and integrate Ukrainian refugees coming to Portugal.

The situation in Eastern Europe adds complexity and uncertainty to a context already marred by unpredictability clouding economic recovery, despite the pandemic threat being largely ignored and receiving less media coverage in recent days.

Moreover, the accelerated inflation seen since 2021, particularly in the energy sector, is likely to be exacerbated by the military conflict, which will compound constraints in logistics routes.

"Our resilience and ability to fight resulted in remarkable sales growth in all the countries where we do business, with our companies, including Ara, delivering positive operating results regarding EBITDA."

Our companies feel prepared to face 2022, thanks to our robust performance in 2021. Our resilience and ability to fight resulted in remarkable sales growth in all the countries where we do business, with our companies, including Ara, delivering positive operating results regarding EBITDA.

For the first time, the Group exceeded – by far – the 20-billion-euro milestone. In 2015 we internally set the ambitious target of closing 2020 with 20 billion euros in sales. The pandemic (still underway), and sharp currency depreciation, delayed the achievement of this goal by one year. We closed 2021 just below 21 billion euros in global turnover.

Biedronka’s sales increased 11% in złoty. Pingo Doce had its best year ever, exceeding 4 billion euros in sales. Ara grew 36.1% in Colombian pesos and broke the billion-euro sales barrier, while Recheio sold 7% more, and Hebe grew 16.7% in złoty.

Biedronka has always kept the bar very high, constantly innovating its assortment and having an unbeatable price-quality ratio in the Polish market. The Company has invested heavily in refurbishing its chain of stores. Between refurbishments and new openings, it has added about 500 stores with a new and more modern layout to its chain, thus improving the shopping experience. Throughout the year, Biedronka maintained exemplary flexibility, adapting its operating hours to the needs of its customers. As part of its innovation agenda, the Company invested significantly in the online channel, offering home deliveries in around 30 cities and creating Biek – in partnership with Glovo –, an ultra-fast delivery service (less than 15 minutes) available in the six major cities.

Hebe began to market products beyond Polish borders and already delivers in four more countries besides Poland. With its e-commerce platform increasingly consolidated, the weight of online sales has doubled and already accounts for 13% of total turnover.

20.9 B€
1.6 B€
690 M€

Pingo Doce saw its decisive investment in pricing and promotions in the year rewarded by Portuguese families: managing to recover sales and recording its best year ever. It is worth highlighting the ability to manage under pressure of all Pingo Doce teams, who operated at negative basket inflation, given that strong investment in competitive prices was accompanied by very low food inflation in Portugal (0.7%).

In 2021 Recheio managed to recover part of its losses in the first year of the pandemic, when the deep economic crisis in Portugal hit its main customers hard. The Company faced 2021 under new leadership and was able to create the conditions to quickly adapt to customer needs, both in traditional retail and HoReCa, with the development of new food solutions.

Ara, also under new leadership, significantly increased the pace of store openings: 157 new stores in 2021, a new location practically every two days, above the targets set for the year. The Company is already present in more than 20 departments of Colombia. Ara’s investment in ensuring the preference of its vecinos (neighbours) by offering the best market value proposition was significant; however, with a broader customer base and well-controlled costs, the Company was able to achieve positive EBITDA profitability (with IFRS 16).

Our agribusiness area also saw new developments in the year. Investments in this area led the Group to a new country to produce sea bass and sea bream (Morocco) and entry into new areas in Portugal: organic oranges – our goal is to cultivate the largest orange grove of its kind in the country – and lambs. Jerónimo Martins Agro-Alimentar maintains a strong focus on sustainable production and on investing in animal welfare, which has already been rewarded with several important certifications.

We planned to celebrate Biedronka’s 25th anniversary and Pingo Doce’s 40th in style in 2020. However, we had to focus our strategy on what became a priority: protecting our employees, supply chains and customers. Lessons learned in 2020 enabled us to face 2021, aware of the constant changes in measures imposed by the national authorities to fight the pandemic, mainly when, in the second half of the year, the number of infections rose yet again with the spread of the Omicron variant.

More structural are the reasons that make 2022 a year of transition, one to enable us all to envisage the world trajectory in this and the following decades. Sustained global economic recovery, leading to widespread growth and a fair distribution of gains, is still far off. Granted, 2021 was a year of strong economic growth, but 2022 and next year may well see a slowdown – with war making it all the more hazy.

"As regards food, our companies, in their respective markets, will continue to be part of the solution that families need, fighting inflation by investing in price competitiveness."

The economic slowdown brings a number of pitfalls. One is inflation, which many economists and scholars define as a hidden tax, to the extent that it reduces the purchasing power of households and businesses.

We will have to wait and see what action western central banks will take, some more aggressive than others. Still, everything points to a hike in interest rates – making the lives of families, businesses and governments even more complex and more expensive.

As regards food, our companies, in their respective markets, will continue to be part of the solution that families need, fighting inflation by investing in price competitiveness. The very solid financial position with which we closed 2021, enables us to maintain this focus and continue supporting our consumers and suppliers in these uncertain times.

This Annual Report also demonstrates the extraordinary cash-generating ability of all our Companies, which enables us to continue investing without financial leverage, while rewarding the efforts of our employees – in 2021, we allocated 217 million euros to awards and bonuses – and remunerating our shareholders. To this end, we have submitted a proposal to the Shareholders’ General Meeting to distribute 493.3 million euros in dividends relating to the 2021 financial year, culminating an extraordinary decade of growth.

As a Group, we have created a lot of value and have also distributed a lot of value. It is worth recalling that in the past ten years we have invested around 6.5 billion euros, created 70,000 jobs, and improved the remuneration and conditions of our employees. Without this multidimensional effort, we would certainly not have managed to double our turnover, as we did.

We achieved all this while standing firm in our commitment to environmental and social sustainability. About ten years ago, we set the first targets and measured our carbon footprint for the first time. Today, we are listed on over 100 international indices that recognise the world’s most sustainable companies.

Therefore, my heartfelt thanks go to all the people who work at Jerónimo Martins, to our more than 123,000 employees, representing over 70 nationalities, who show a passion and commitment that fills me with pride.

Our operational teams deserve a special mention. From stores to logistics, they once again stood firm on the front lines, ensuring that we were always ready to receive consumers and that they would find everything they needed.

I would also like to thank the executive directors of the Companies for their commitment and drive, and those of the corporate areas, for their professionalism amidst a profound change in the forms of work organisation, which I believe are here to stay.

Without the decisive support and confidence of the Group’s shareholders, particularly the family I represent, it would be impossible to maintain the long-term vision that guides us while responsibly and jointly managing our business’s day-to-day and short-term operations.

Lastly, a word to thank my colleagues on the Managing Committee and the Board of Directors, without whom our collective journey and the positive impact we seek to have on the Companies would not be the same. I couldn’t be prouder.


Pedro Soares dos Santos
Chairman and CEO


It was a year of solid sales growth in all countries where we operate.


Learn about the Group’s leading key performance indicators in 2021.


Know how we act as responsible corporate citizens.

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