Supermarket Companies Profiles

Grupo Éxito Almacenes Carulla supermarket history expansion Latin America


Grupo Éxito is Colombia's leading grocer.  The group which gets its name from the Spanish word for 'success', oversees a hypermarket business that gets about a quarter of its revenue from the sale of clothing, travel and financial products (real estate and insurance).  As of March 2012 there were 418 locations in more than 60 cities in Colombia and Uruguay;  Almacenes Exito represents roughly half the stores with the other half branded Surtimax (clothing), CarullaPomona (supermarkets), Ley and Home Mart (appliances).  The group is 54% owned by France's Groupe Casino (down from over 70% two years ago) - 20% of shares are held by the pension fund Empresarial Antioqueño.  Employees number ~70,000.  The company ranks next to Grupo Nutresa as Colombia's largest publicly traded food company.

Grupo Exito and parent company Groupe Casino previously owned a majority stake in Venezuela's leading supermarket chain Cativen (67.1%) however it was forced to divest that share in 2011 (bought by Venezuela's government).

Latin American Expansion Plans

In 2011 Grupo Exito expressed a strong desire to expand operations elsewhere in Latin America.  To raise funding for this, the company asked shareholders to approve a $795 million share offering (130m shares).

1st move:  In June 2011 Grupo Exito paid $746 million for controlling interest in three of Uruguay's five biggest grocery store chains Disco (62.5%), Devoto (96.5%) and Geant.  Combined they represent 785,000 square feet of retail space (53 stores) and $770 million in annual sales (9% as much as Grupo Exito in fiscal 2011).  At the time, Grupo Exito had 299 locations, all in Colombia.


The chain of hypermarkets known as Almacenes was initially a textile business that opened its first store in 1949 in Medellin, Colombia.  Though today the company gets three quarters of its revenue from food, it wasn't until 1972 that grocery items were added to store shelves.  Prior to the 1980's, most of its business came from one city (Medellin).

  • Opens key locations in 1974 (El Poblado), 1980 (Bogota), 1981 (Envigado, Colombia)
  • In 1994 becomes a publicly traded company
  • In October of 2006 company founder Gustavo Toro sells his entire stake in the company (24%) to key competitor Cencosud for $273 million.
  • In the 1990's Groupe Casino started taking interest in the company with a 25% stake.
  • In 2007 purchased controlling interest (77.5%) in Carulla Vivero.  At the time there were 142 Carulla, Surtimax, and Home Mart locations.  In 2009 Grupo Exito bought more shares in Carulla before merging with the company in 2010.  For most of its history, Carulla focused on the clothing business.
  • In November 2001 merged with supermarket operator Cadenalco (Pomona, Ley brands);  Cadenalco previously acquired Pomona supermarkets in 1993, founded SuperLey in 1988, acquired la Candelaria in 1974.  Cadenalco, founded by Luis Yepes in 1905, has been publicly traded since 1959.
  • In the 1990's diversified into eye care, travel, real estate, insurance.
Powered by

Additional information