Uruguay flag Uruguay: Buying and Selling

The distribution network in Uruguay

Evolution of the Sector
Uruguay has moved up the table in a global ranking of attractiveness for the retail sector, taking the third spot, according to AT Kearney’s Global Retail Development Index. Business development incentives in the sector come in a context of foreign capital and brands developing in the country, alongside strong dynamics in mergers and acquisitions among leading domestic supermarket chains.

The main commercial area of the country is located in Montevideo and its suburb. Big malls are recent and can all be found in Montevideo: "3 Cruces Shopping", "Punta Carretas Shopping", "Montevideo Shopping", "Portones Shopping". Other important commercial areas are: Punta del Este, Paysandu, Salto and Colonia.

Traditional distribution networks are small shops, rather family businesses spread out all around the country. The image of a wholesaler is unlikely and the modern distribution is dominated by importers-distributors delivering big retail chains and smaller retailers. The market of modern distribution is composed by this 3 players: Disco, Devoto et Tienda Inglesa. There is only one superstore, Groupe Casino, owned by the French same called group. Franchising model starts being developed in the country. Industrial semi-finished or finished goods are operated by distributor agents (no specialized distribution chain).
Market share
Uruguay's tax legislation has attracted many investments that have favoured the growth of retail. The growth gained momentum when the government opened the market to supermarkets and hypermarkets in 2009. According to Euromonitor data, the supermarket and department stores' market in Uruguay is composed of almost 30,000 shops. Furthermore, small and independent supermarkets account for 67% of sales, while the remaining 33% corresponds to large supermarkets.

The pioneers of the market are Disco SA and Ta-Ta SA, which quickly invested in this market segment. Disco targets the densely populated, low-income areas of Montevideo, while Ta-Ta is more active in the interior of the country where it faces less competition. Minor competitors include Supermercados Devoto Hnos SA, Tienda Inglesa and Multi Ahorro. After establishing a strong presence in the supermarket sector, Disco and Ta-Ta are now investing heavily in shopping centres in order to consolidate their control of the retail sector.

Multinationals own a large part of the major retail chains. The Disco-Dévoto group is the largest as it owns the DISCO supermarkets (27 branches), DEVOTO (25 branches) and the Géant hypermarket. In terms of market share, the following are the Henderson & Cia group with the Tienda Inglesa chain (9 branches), the Multi Ahorro chain (30 medium-sized stores), the TA-TA chain (20 small and medium-sized stores), the El Dorado chain of the Polakof & Cia group located mainly in the interior of the country (40 branches, supermarkets and convenience stores).

The non-food retail market is divided between several small independent retailers such as Chic Parisien SA, leader of the clothing and footwear market (Parisien, Indian and DNK), and the runner-up Coboe SA.
Retail Sector Organisations
Association of Uruguay supermarkets (in Spanish)
Main Association of Uruguayan shopkeepers
Uruguay chamber of commerce
Ministry of Finance and Economy

Return to top

Any Comment About This Content? Report It to Us.


© eexpand, All Rights Reserved.
Latest Update: May 2024