Algeria flag Algeria: Buying and Selling

The distribution network in Algeria

Evolution of the Sector
Although the distribution market has, for a long time, been the domain of public companies, informal shops now dominate the retail trade sector and Algeria has a fairly well-developed distribution system with mostly wholesale and retail outlets.

Private businesses control the retail trade at 95% (with strong participation of European investments), and grocery stores and small supermarkets are spread out evenly in the country. According to the estimates of Numidis (the retail and distribution arm of Cevital - a major local private sector group), modern retail accounts for only 3% of annual turnover.

Algeria is today the first importer of food products on the African continent - 75% of the total needs are imported - and the food industry is the second market in the country after the oil industry. Algeria ranked 3rd worldwide for milk and dairy product imports, according to Euromonitor International. The EU accounts for 53% of Algerian imports and 53% of Algerian exports.

Nevertheless, investors highlight regulatory uncertainty, tight foreign exchange controls, lax intellectual property rights (IPR) protections, customs delays, and a large informal sector among ongoing commercial challenges. In 2009 and 2010, Algeria voted several laws which imposed a requirement of at least 51% Algerian ownership of foreign investments (with such requirement being finally lifted in 2019). For these reasons, the French chain Carrefour has struggled with its plans to develop hypermarkets in Algeria. In 2006, it planned to build 18 such stores, but reversed course a few years later. Nonetheless, Carrefour opened one hypermarket located in the 'City Center' shopping mall in Mohammadia.

Market share
The Algerian retail sector today is highly fragmented, dominated by a multitude of small, privately owned stores and hard-to-monitor informal vendors. The distribution system is shared between public and private companies. State firms sell mainly wholesale imported foodstuffs, pharmaceutical products and industrial materials, although some private companies are also active in these sectors. In terms of retail trade, the majority of distributors are private companies, namely informal shopkeepers in small shops.

Numidis, known in Algeria by the brand name UNO, is a subsidiary of the Algerian group Cevital, the largest private conglomerate in Algeria, with interests in the agri-food sector, retail, industry and services. There are today 23 UNO stores in the country: 5 hypermarkets, 1 supermarket, 16 motorway services, 1 convenience store.

According to the latest data available by the Algerian Register of Commerce, in 2016 there were 1,415 retail markets in the country, 38 Hypermarkets, 1,919 superette and 232 supermarkets.

Retail Sector Organisations
Algerian Ministry of Trade

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Latest Update: May 2022

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