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The amount Europeans spent on groceries climbed 4.4% in the final quarter of 2017 – the highest rise since early 2012, Nielsen’s latest retail performance data reveals.

This 4.4% increase in takings at the tills across the 21 European countries measured is attributed to shoppers buying 1.8% more items and paying 2.6% more per item than they did a year ago.

The higher prices were a combination of price inflation and shoppers actively choosing more expensive goods.

Olivier Deschamps, senior vice-president of retailer services Europe, said: “After a few tough years, 2017 saw a dynamic economic environment across Europe with positive consumer confidence in the region and record highs in several countries.

“This contributed to a strong year for grocery retail, particularly impressive considering shoppers’ savings mind-set such as looking for the best deals and a bigger preference for the discounters.

One of the reasons for the growth against this backdrop was the performance of local brands over the leading international players.

“They’ve capitalised on the revival of ‘local pride’, tapping into consumer and retailer tastes towards premium, local champions, particularly the focus on health and wellness through organic and free-from ingredients. Health now being one of Europeans’ two biggest concerns,” said Deschamps.

Turkey enjoyed the highest year-on-year growth in takings at the tills (+16.8%), followed by Hungary (+8.2%) and Slovakia (+7.5%). In contrast, Switzerland (+1.6%), Finland (+1.7%) and Belgium (+1.8%) had the smallest growth.

Prices paid in the UK rose 1.2% while volumes increased 2.8%, meaning total grocery – or what the industry calls fast-moving consumer goods – spend rose 4%, ranking the UK ninth of the 21 countries.

Spain’s growth rate (+5.3%) was the highest among the big five western European markets, followed by the UK (+4.0%), whilst France had the lowest growth among this group (+2.8%).

“Despite GDP growth slowing slightly in some of the Eurozone’s largest economies, the IMF puts 2018 GDP growth at around 2%, which suggests that economic stability will continue to support grocery sales in Europe,” said Deschamps.

“Two growth areas in particular to look out for are e-commerce and private label. Retailers continue to revamp their own brands, upgrading ranges and investing in marketing to tap into consumer needs around competitive prices but good quality.”

Morning update

Bakkavor Group (BAKK) has appointed Jane Lodge, an independent non-executive director. Lodge, who is also a non-executive director of Devro (DVO), succeeds Simon Burke as chair of Bakkavor’s audit and risk committee.

Simon Burke, chairman of Bakkavor said: “I am delighted to welcome Jane to the Board of Bakkavor and very much look forward to working closely with her. Jane’s extensive experience in the food industry as an audit partner and also a non-executive director will be of significant benefit to the board and equips her well to guide the audit and risk committee in the years ahead.”

Russian grocery retailer Magnit PJSC (MGNT) has announced the appointment of Elena Milinova as chief financial officer.

The position has been vacant for more than a month since Khachatur Pombukchan was named chief executive.

Pombukhchan said: “Milinova had great financial experience, was highly professional and “very familiar” with retail.

“I am confident that her deep knowledge and personal skills will enhance the erfficient implementation of our strategic plans. We are delighted that such a strong manager is joining our team.

Milinova, former director for economy and finance of Marathon Group, said: “Magnit is a legend [sic] company which faces challenging but interesting tasks. I hope that our joint efforts will return it to a leadership position in industry.”

Magnit has 16,350 stores, 12,125 of them convenience and 24 of them hypermarkets.

On the markets this morning, the FTSE 100 is down 0.8% in early trading to 7,000.3pts.

Early risers include C&C Group (CCR), up 2.3% at €2.70, Hilton Food Group (HFG), up 1% at 838p, Majestic WINE (WINE), up 1.8% at 405p, McColl’s Retail Group (MCL), up 2.2% at 230p and Stock Sprits Group (STCK), up 1.8% at 253p.

Fallers so far today include AG Barr (BAG), down 3% at 637p, Premier Foods (PFD), off 3.4% at 36.5p, Imperial Brands (IMB), down 1% at 2,399.5p, DS Smith (SMDS), off 1.1% at 465.4p and Dairy Crest (DCG) and down 1.4% at 505p

This week in the City

Its a quiet week for company announcements as the City eases its way back into action after Easter.

Today brings the British Retail Consortium Shop Price Index and Purchasing Managers’ Index for the manufacturing sector, followed by the PMI for services on Thursday.

The monthly Kantar/Nielsen grocery market share figures are scheduled for release tomorrow.

Thursday also sees Lamb Weston announce third-quarter earnings.

Friday brings Monsanto’s (MON) second-quarter figures and The Co-operative Group’s finals.