Annual Report 2023



2,435 M


# Stores





45 M



258 M

Highlights of the Year

  • 10th anniversary of Ara
  • Opened 200 stores, expanding our presence to more than 372 municipalities (out of around 1,100)
  • 60 Bodegas del Canasto (B2B)
  • Opening of the first stores operated by partners, a model similar to franchising
  • Launch of a strong promotional campaign “Nothing compares to Ara”, with significant price reductions
Message from the CEO

In 2023 we celebrated our 10th anniversary in Colombia, a country that welcomed us with open arms and where our strategy of offering quality food at the most competitive market prices has allowed us to exceed one million daily customers in our stores.

Over the past two years, Colombian families have seen a continuous deterioration in their purchasing power as a result of the sharp rise in food prices, which has led to a reduction in the volumes bought on the market and a trading down in shopping behaviour. Although the second half of 2023 saw a slowing in price increases, food inflation averaged around 15% in the year.

The Company’s priorities remained focused on guaranteeing the availability of our offer at the lowest price in a challenging environment for Colombian families. Similarly, as part of the partnerships we have built with our suppliers, we paid particular attention to their financial needs in a period of high interest rates.

We have been enhancing our value proposition by innovating in fresh products and in the Private Brand offering, while guaranteeing price leadership. In 2024 we will continue to develop partnerships with Colombian producers, favouring regional sourcing whenever quality standards allow.

We opened 200 stores in 2023, with a total of 1,290 locations, we started the construction of a distribution centre in Bogotá, and we continued the one in Cali, which was opened in the start of 2024.

In 2024, which is expected to remain challenging, we will continue to be fully committed to Colombian families – ensuring the quality and food safety of our assortment at the most competitive prices – so that we continue to be deserving of the trust of the families we serve today and of those who will become loyal to the Ara brand tomorrow.

Nuno Sereno

More information, particularly about our sustainability initiatives, is provided under “Sustainability” in this Report.


Food retail in Colombia reflected the significant pressure on household income with the consequent contraction in consumption, due to the persistence of very high inflation levels. This context led to a sharp drop in volumes and an increasing trading down effect.

In this very difficult consumer environment, Ara remained steadfast in its low price positioning – investing heavily in price –, while at the same time as been very focused on strengthening capillarity and committed to being the ally par excellence of Colombian families, in order to remain their first choice at a time when many have serious difficulties in accessing essential food products.

Fresh fruit department at an Ara store (photo)

Sales, in local currency, grew 42.7%, including an LFL of 10.9%. In euros, sales amounted to 2.4 billion euros, up 37.7% year-on-year.

Net sales

(€ Million)

Ara net sales  (bar chart)

Throughout the year, and to protect volumes and generate value for customers, Ara focused on creating savings opportunities by offering promotions and lower prices in categories relevant to families, such as fruit and vegetables, meat, and essential products.

Once again, the decentralisation model was an important part of its strategy, either to ensure local competitiveness or to carry out initiatives in order to increase the local impact of store openings, such as the development of regional marketing campaigns and the participation ensuring evolvement in local festiveness. These commercial and marketing actions – store activations and regional brochures – were aimed mainly at increasing sales in strategic categories, and at increasing the basket and attracting new customers.

Ara also maintained the “Merca todo en Ara” campaign, a national marketing campaign with various products on sale, which seeks to reinforce the perception of Ara stores as one-stop shops.

Outside view of an Ara store (photo)

To strengthen its price positioning, the Company took advantage of the celebrations of the banner’s 10th anniversary to implement a strong and bold promotional campaign, with significant price reductions, during the months of May and June. Under the slogan “Nothing compares to Ara”, the campaign didn’t go unnoticed and was embraced by consumers, leading to significant growth in the number of customers and trade volumes.

During the rest of the year, the Company continued to invest and launched promotional campaigns specially created for television to highlight the offer of specific products at unbeatable prices.

2023 also marked the Ara’s partnership to the women’s national football team.

Three circles with KPIs (graphic)

In an extremely difficult year, all the actions implemented had an impact on the market, with Ara achieving consumer recognition and increased market share.

The Private Brand strengthened its importance in an environment characterised by trading down, where quality options combined with low prices were crucial. The Company continued to invest in the differentiation and innovation of its assortment, having launched 109 new products and carried out 113 relaunches.

In the year, Ara carried out important work in terms of redesigning the packaging of its Private Brand products, so as to improve perceived quality of the product, differentiation and to include the necessary changes to comply with new nutrition legislation, while at the same time making packaging also environmentally more sustainable.

EBITDA totalled 45 million euros (60 million euros in 2022), with the respective margin standing at 1.9% (3.4% in 2022). Pressure on the margin reflected the effects of:

  1. investment in prices;
  2. deterioration of the margin mix due to the replacement of purchases with lower value-added products (trading down); and
  3. low maturity of a significant portion of the store network.
Outside view of a Bodega del Canasto store (photo)

Ara maintained its growth strategy as a priority, investing 258 million euros in the opening of 200 stores, of which 17 Bodegas del Canasto, and the refurbishment of three locations. Investment in logistics, particularly in warehouses to support the distribution centres, was also important in order to enable the efficient supply of its chain of stores and make more cost-efficient transportation.

In 2023, and capitalizing on the strong entrepreneurship of Colombians, the Company began opening stores in a model similar to franchising, ending the year with 15 of these stores, thus expanding the brand’s presence and notoriety in smaller municipalities, while at the same time giving partners the opportunity to have their own business.

The banner remains confident that its value proposition is suited to the Colombian consumer, reinforced in light of socio-economic uncertainty.

Awards and recognitions of note

Ara is considered one of the best performing companies in Colombia when it comes to management, according to the Private Social Investment Index.

Complete list of awards and recognitions


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