Bosnia and Herzegovina flag Bosnia and Herzegovina: Buying and Selling

The distribution network in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Evolution of the Sector
As a result of different legal frameworks in the entities, Bosnia and Herzegovina is divided between two distribution areas: one in the Federation and one in Republika Srpska.  Although some effort has been made to harmonize the entities’ legal systems, there are still significant differences.  Consequently, many manufacturers have developed multiple distribution channels and contracts with multiple distributors to cover both the Federation and Republika Srpska.

Wholesalers offer the best channel for providing transportation, product storage, market information, financing, and risk management.  Most wholesalers are independent, full-service merchant wholesalers that import and distribute goods.  There is a significant degree of specialization in the wholesale sector by industry.  Foreign companies control their distribution channels in BiH in a variety of ways. Some manufacturers have opened representative offices in order to control distribution channels and supervise/manage marketing efforts. 

In general, small retailers are slowly losing out to large wholesalers with developed retail operations. Over the last fifteen years, the appearance of shopping centers (malls) has been significant and has prompted significant changes in the retail market. The largest foreign retail chain, Croatian Konzum is being challenged by local food retailers (Bingo, Tropic and Amko Komerc) that have consolidated their presence and are becoming increasingly competitive. Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional (HRI) Shopping centers import and distribute food and offer a great variety of fresh meat, exotic and new-to-market foods, and ready-to-eat foods. They also provide good professional service, restaurants with ready meals at favorable prices and a festive environment (entertainment for kids, clowns, and games/ lotteries). Quite often, they organize in-store promotions and product tastings and provide small gifts with purchased products. A special discount is offered to faithful customers. Food items are also sold in a number of small independent groceries and open markets.
Market share
The most significant development in the retail market is the emergence of large distributors, most of whom are foreigners, Konzum (Croatian supermarket chain), Interex (French supermarket chain), and local distribution companies including MIMS Group, Tropic Centar, Bingo, and Robot Komerc. In addition, the continued expansion of the shopping centre concept - including the major newcomer, the Sarajevo City Center Shopping Centre which opened in 2014 - has changed consumer habits. There are currently 46 chains in the entire distribution sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the fashion and clothing segment having the highest share with a total of 10 chains (Retail Index, latest data available).

The market share of small (individual) retailers has fallen since the introduction of larger retailers. The biggest two retailers in Bosnia and Herzegovina are the domestic Bingo and regional Konzum, both of which have led to consolidation in the grocery sector. Their market share among grocery retailers was respectively 17% and 16%. Among non-grocery retailers, Phoenix, dm-Drogerie Markt and CM-Cosmetic Market lead the pack. Non-store retailing (e.g. e-commerce, mail-order) is led by Avon Cosmetics BiH, Studio Moderna and Oriflame Kozmetika (Source: Euromonitor International, latest data available).
Retail Sector Organisations
Foreign Trade Chamber of Bosnia Herzegovina
Chamber of Economy of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Ministry of Trade

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Latest Update: April 2024

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