There used to be a duopoly on the market of black and white goods in Bulgaria for years. The dozens of retail outlets of the Technomarket and Technopolis chains held the lion's share of sales due to customers' desire to touch products before buying them. Smaller retailers, however, although offering similar shopping experiences could not compete with the prices, assortments, and locational and marketing advantages of the chains. With the spread of e-commerce in recent years, the picture has changed. Huge and expensive retail sites are increasingly difficult to maintain, and full-time on-line players have provide stiff competition.
According to a number of independent studies, the Bulgarian retail market for electronics is valued between 1.5 to 2 billion levs. A recent survey by the consultancy company Euromonitor , calculated at the market as being be 1.7 billion levs in 2016. Technomarket and Technopolis still account for a substantial percentage of sales but the market is opening to new and energetic players. The entry and stormy advance of online retailer еMAG has changed the picture. For some years now, the traditional big chains have invested in their own e-stores. E-commerce, however, has only come to account between 5 and 7% of their annual turnovers. Nevertheless, Technopolis co-owner Bozhidar Kolev told the Capital newspaper that "during the past year the growth rate of our online sales considerably exceeds that of our entire business."
Bulgaria's two long-standing electronics retailing giants exchanged rankings in the market during the past two years. Last year, revenues of Technomarket dropped to 300 million levs, a fall from the unprecedented 830 million levs booked 2008. This is mostly due to the change of ownership and the aggressive policy of the new owner - Delyan Peevski, a member of parliament from Movement for Rights and Freedoms. Mr. Peevski decided to break the contracts with his tenant, Glorient Investment BG, and entered in convoluted court battle, he mostly lost. The company has closed several stores, although it still operates 48, the largest number, operated by any competing player in Bulgaria. While Technomarket appears to contract, the market share of Technopolis has grown and the group is now the most profitable player in this highly competitive sector.
In 2016, Zora, the third largest chain in the Bulgarian retail electronics market, according to the Regal's Top 25, marked its largest-ever increase in sales, a full 23%. Zora, a family company established in 1991 was propelled by its recent rebranding and makeover of its stores and website. This past year, Zora achieved the highest share of online sales (6%) amongst Bulgaria's many retail electronics players; its goal is to have achieve 10% for year.
Growth of smaller chains in the sector is attention worthy. Techmart is an example. Its parent company, Magnum-D, had previously been distributor and exporter of equipment but, in recent years, moved into retail trade as well and now ranks fourth behind Technopolis, Technomarket, and Zora.
In e-commerce segment, еMAG, part of global retail giant Naspers, continues to increase. According to sources, eMAG boosted it sales last year by 40% to approximately 100 million levs. eMag representatives say that black goods remain the company's leading category, with TV sets and mobile phones accounting for much of its of sales.
According to market data, black goods are in highest demand from Bulgarian consumers. Although 2017 was a year without major worldwide sporting events, TVs remained in demand both in conventional stores and on-line, while hot summer temperatures led to increased demand for refrigerators and air conditioners. Also during 2017, sales of smartphones by the retailers continued to gnaw away at sales by telecommunications operators. Although telcos remain the main sellers of phones, their market share has been shrinking. According to Euromonitor, some 1.6 million phones are sold in Bulgaria each year, with around 1 million of them sold by the telecommunications companies which is the reason why these companies are ranked as major players on the black goods market in some industry reports.
Growth in demand for electronics goods in Bulgaria is expected to grow, albeit slowly. In 2018, the FIFA World Cup championship and Winter Olympic Games will take place, auguring a boost in TV sales.