German supermarket giant Kaufland are set to exit Australia.
The retailer – who are the world’s fourth largest, made the shock announcement today, citing they would instead be focusing on their European markets.
They had been due to open stores this year and the news comes just months after C&I reported they had begun construction on a $255 million distribution centre in Victoria, which was set to become one of the largest in Australia.
At the time, Kaufland Australia director Maximilian Wiedmann said they viewed Australia as a strong market, stating “Australia is one of the fastest growing regions in the world, and we are excited to grow with it.”
In a statement announcing the decision, the company – who employ roughly 200 Australian employees, stated they would make an “orderly” withdrawal from the Australian market.
The company have said they are determining what they will do with their existing properties.
Kaufland International’s acting CEO Frank Schumann said the decision was based on the need to focus on their European business, rather than as a reaction to the Australian market.
“This was not an easy decision for us. We always felt welcome in Australia. We would like to thank our employees and we apologise for the disruption this decision will cause,” he said.
“We would also like to thank our business partners, who offered us great support over the last few years. We would also like to thank the government for being very open-minded to our projects.”
“In Europe, we see a great deal of growth potential. We will actively shape the consolidation of the European retail sector, thus further reinforcing our leading position.”
Kaufland operate 1,300 stores and employee 132,000 people across Europe.