Jeronimo Martins plans Biedronka expansion beyond Poland, eyes Romania

LISBON, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Poland’s largest food retailer Biedronka is preparing to expand to other countries, the CEO of its Portuguese owner Jeronimo Martins said on Friday, adding that Romania was one potential new market.

“The moment is coming to go beyond (Polish) borders”, Pedro Soares dos Santos told a news conference, adding that the Polish discount supermarket chain would also reinforce its balance sheet this year.

“The country we’d like to go to is Romania ... whether it will be this year or next, I don’t know,” said Soares dos Santos.

Boosted by the Polish business, Jeronimo Martins on Thursday reported a 7.9% rise in net profit for 2019, surpassing the 1 billion-euro EBITDA mark for the first time.

Sales at Biedronka jumped 8.8% in 2019 on a local currency basis, despite new regulation that prohibits supermarkets in Poland from opening on some Sundays, a change to which the company has now fully adapted, Soares dos Santos said.

Jeronimo Martins is Portugal’s No. 2 retailer and also operates in Colombia. Its shares rose 2.7% on Friday after the strong results, while the broader market in Lisbon was 0.4% in the red. (Reporting by Sergio Goncalves, writing by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)