(Updates with company confirmation, quote, share price)
LJUBLJANA Jan 29 Slovenia's largest food
retailer Mercator on Tuesday reported a net loss of
103.6 million euros ($139.63 million) in 2012, versus a profit
of 23.5 million euros in the previous year.
The company blamed the loss on a fall in the value of some
of its assets, including real estate, plus tougher competition
and a worsening economic situation.
"The competition in the region is getting tougher which is
reducing our profit margins," Mercator's chief executive Toni
Balazic told reporters at a news conference.
He said profits were also hit by the depreciation of the
Serbian dinar and by an increase of the value-added-tax in
The retailer operates stores in Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia,
Bosnia and Montenegro, while it is this year planning to sell
its units in Albania and Bulgaria.
Sales fell to 2.87 billion euros from 2.93 billion the year
Mercator also said it reduced net debt by 7.6 percent in
2012 to about 1 billion euros. The company said it planned to
cut costs and improve productivity in 2013 to return to profit.
In December, Mercator's owners resumed an attempt to sell
their joint 53.18 percent stake in the company after an earlier
attempt was not successful.
Shares of Mercator, which has market capitalisation of 527
million euros, closed 0.04 percent lower at 140 euros on Tuesday
before the results were released, while the blue-chip SBI index
gained 0.86 percent.
Mercator's results were initially reported by daily Finance
on its website.
($1 = 0.7420 euros)
(Reporting By Marja Novak. Editing by Jane Baird and Jane