Top 10 Retail Companies in the World 2018

Published by MBA Skool Team, Last Updated: May 18, 2020

The largest retail companies demonstrate the dominance of these retail chains both at home and abroad. The best retail companies have grown rapidly by opening several stores across strategic geographic locations worldwide. Along with that, retail chains have also made their presence felt by having a strong online presence. This enables them to showcase their entire product & service offering, and reach out to customers more efficiently. The top retail companies include Walmart, CVS, Walgreen Boot, Home Depot followed by names like Kroger, Costco, Target, Alibaba, Lowe’s, Carrefour. Here is a list of the top 10 retail companies in the world 2018.

Top Retailers 2018 by Sales & Profit

10. Carrefour

Carrefour is one of the biggest retailers headquartered in Boulogne Billancourt, France.

Image: Wikimedia

It is one of the largest hypermarkets of the world with 12,300 self-service stores under group banners in more than 30 countries and regions at the end of year 2017. It was founded by Denis Defforey, Jacques Defforey and Marcel Fournier in 1960, and it was the first to open hypermarket in Europe.

In 1970, Carrefour went public and it was listed on the Paris Stock Exchange. Carrefour has more than 374,478 employees worldwide. Since people are now adopting online modes to make purchases, Carrefour recorded 1.3 million unique visitors a day across all the Carrefour websites in the year 2017. Carrefour has more than 20,000 Carrefour quality line suppliers worldwide with over 70% of Carrefour brand food products come from SMEs and national suppliers. There are more than 104 million households worldwide those are using Carrefour products at their homes. The company was able to generate $106 billion of revenue in the year 2017. The company is also known for its philanthropic activities, in the year 2017, company donated 148.2 million meal equivalents donated to food aid associates. They were also able to cut CO2 emissions by 24% as compared to year 2016. In 2014, 65% of the total waste produced by Carrefour stores was recycled and reused.

Sales (Billion): $106.00

Profit (Billion): $0.60

9. Lowe’s

Lowe’s is one of the leading retail companies in the world & has a strong global presence.

Image: Wikimedia

Lowe’s is a fortune 500 American company and operates a chain of home improvement retail stores and appliance store in US, Mexico and Canada. It was founded in 1946 in North Carolina. It has more than 2400 home improvement stores operational and workforce of more 290,000 people. It is the largest home retail improvement chain after the Home Depot. Lowes was able to grow nationally and had acquired Washington based Eagle hardware & Garden company in 1999. With this they started to expand its operations outside the US. The first store that they established outside US was in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. The company has operated or serviced in more than 2,355 locations in US, Mexico and Canada alone. For year 2017, the revenue generated through sales was around $ 65 Billion and able to generate profit of $3 billion. The company has total assets of worth $34 Billion and has market cap of $71 Billion.

Sales (Billion): $65.00

Profit (Billion): $3.00

8. Alibaba

Alibaba is one of the China’s biggest ecommerce firms and retail players.

Image: Wikimedia

Alibaba was founded by 18 people led by Jack Ma, a former English teacher from Hangzhou in 1999. Jack Ma believed that it will empower small businesses and will level the playing field by leveraging innovation and technology to compete in the global economies. They enable the businesses to transform their way of doing business by providing them fundamental technological infrastructure so that they can leverage the power of internet to engage with the users and customers. As the name suggests it opens for small- to medium-sized companies. Alibaba is the most valuable retailer in the world since 2014 and has its operations expanded in more than 200 countries. In year, 2018 it became the 2nd Asian company to break the $500 billion valuation mark. In the early phase Soft bank, Goldman Sachs invested heavily in Alibaba. In 2016, company was able to achieve GMV of $478 billion and aims to double it by 2020. The company accounted for 80% of the total online sales happening in their nation through their online portal in 2014 and feature around billion of products due to which it was featured in the world’s top 20 most visited sites. Alibaba is planning to spend 500 billion yuan over five years to build robust logistic network in China and around the world.

Sales (Billion): $21.00

Profit (Billion): $5.70

7. Target

Target is second largest discount store retailer after Walmart in US having a strong geographic reach.


The company was founded by George Dayton and has its headquarter in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The first store was established in 1962 in Roseville, Minnesota. It has more than 1800 stores across world by 2017.Target parent company is known by the name Dayton-Hudson Corporation and Target is the highest earning division of Dayton-Hudson Corporation. It experienced massive success by expanding its operations in the urban markets of US. It caters to the need of youth and image conscious shoppers whereas its rival follows a strategy of “always low price”. Target operates in several formats which include the discount store Target, the Supermarket hypermarket and flexible format stores. The first SuperTarget store was opened in Apple Valley, Minnesota in 1990; the stores are 50% larger than traditional stores with the inclusion of grocery department. Target also pay much attention to its ecommerce operations, the domain attracted around 228 million visitors annually by 2008. In Dec 2017, Target announced the corporation intent to purchase Shipt for $550 Million in order to compete with its competitor like Amazon and Walmart. Shipt is an internet based online grocery delivery service in US. Target globally was able to generate $69 Billion worth of revenue with an overall profit of $2.7 billion in the year 2017.

Sales (Billion): $69.00

Profit (Billion): $2.70

6. Costco

COSTCO is an American multinational corporation and it is headquartered in Issaquah, Washington.

Image: geograph

In the year 2015, COSTCO was considered to be as world’s second largest retailer after Walmart & in the year 2016, it became world’s largest retailer of prime beef, organic food, wine and chicken. COSTCO opened its first warehouse in 1983 nearby Seattle and has since then grown with many more stores. The company has 750 warehouses in countries like US, Canada, Mexico, Japan, France, Australia, UK, Spain, Iceland etc. Costco’s history began with Sol Price, when he opened the first Price Club Warehouse in California in the year 1976, thus giving rise to the concept of retail warehousing. Costco employ more than 200,000 employees worldwide and has more than 90.3 million members worldwide in the year 2017. Costco involve in selling products at very low price. Often the products are sold in high volume catering to the needs of large families and businesses. It sells product under the Kirkland Signature label and a typical COSTCO warehouse carries 4,000 distinct products. This helps them in a high volume of sales and allows further reduction in prices due to low marketing costs. Costco has its largest warehouse located in Salt Lake City which of around 235,000 square feet and has highest volume store located in Seoul, South Korea. The company was able to generate sales of around $121 Billion with an overall profit of $2.4 billion in the year 2017.

Sales (Billion): $121.00

Profit (Billion): $2.40

5. Kroger

The Kroger Company is an American retail company having a strong geographic presence.


It was founded by Bernard Kroger in 1883 in Cincinnati, Ohio, and in the year 2016, it became US’s largest supermarket chain by revenue. It is one of the largest general retailer in US after Walmart, and it is headquartered in downtown Cincinnati. Kroger is also the largest private employer in the US and it is also the third largest retailer in the world. It is operational across 35 states and its store format includes supermarket, hypermarket, departmental stores, superstores, jewellery stores and convenience stores. Kroger is the only major US Company which operate an economical three-tier distribution system. Kroger is serving nearly 9 million customers a day in 35 states. Food stores contribute to 94% of the total company’s revenue and rest comes from jewellery stores and manufacturing facilities. Kroger has around 2,268 pharmacies located in their combined food and drug stores which provide high quality services every day at low prices. The Kroger Company has largest network of private label brand manufacturing in the country. Kroger always believe in simple dictum: Be particular. Never sell anything you would not want yourself.” Kroger’s vision is a world with zero hunger and zero waste. Kroger is committed towards a mission to end hunger in the communities and eliminate waste across its company by 2025.

Sales (Billion): $122.00

Profit (Billion): $1.91

4.  Home Depot

The Home Depot was Bernie Marcus, Ron Brill, Arthur Blank, and Pat Farrah in 1978.


The company has its headquarter located in Georgia USA and is the largest home improvement retailer of USA. Their vision is to provide them with products, services & knowledge they required in order to build house of their dreams. Arthur blank & Bernie dreamed up The Home Depot from a coffee shop in 1978. They envisioned providing a huge variety of merchandise at a great price with highly trained staff. From just two stores, The Home Depot has now almost 2200 stores in three countries. When it went online, the domain attracted around 120 million visitors annually in the year 2008. In the year 2015, it acquired interline Brands from P2 capital partners and Goldman Sach’s private equity arm for around $1.6 Billion. Interline Brands has over 90 distribution centres across US, Canada. Some of the major brands of home depot are Chem-dry, Behr paints, Homelite, American Woodwork etc. The company is also known for its philanthropic activities like recently, the company donated $50 million to train people as construction workers over a period of 10 years. The company was able to generate revenue of around $95 Billion with an overall profit of $8 Billion in the year 2017. The company has market value 0f $177 Billion with an overall assets value of $43 Billion in the year 2017.

Sales (Billion): $95.00

Profit (Billion): $8.0

3. Walgreen Boots Alliance

Walgreen Boots Alliance is one of the largest pharmacies and retail companies across US and Europe.

Image: Wikimedia

Walgreen Boots Alliance has presence in more than 25 countries and employs around 3,85,000 people with more than 13000 stores across world. Walgreen Boots is an American Holding Company headquartered in Deerfield Illinois, US. The company was formed in year 2014 when Walgreen purchased 55% of stake in Switzerland and UK based Alliance Boots. The company has three divisions: Retail Pharmacy USA (Walgreens), Retail Pharmacy International (Boots) & Alliance healthcare which incorporates Pharmaceutical wholesale vertical. The company has unmatched supply chain and distribution network and procurement expertise which offers customers innovative solutions at lower price. It has other brands in the category of global health and beauty product like No7, Soap & Glory, Liz Earle, Sleek MakeUP and Botanics. It has a unique platform which helps them generate huge profit and let them grow in a sustainable way in developed and emerging markets. Walgreen Boots Alliance leverages on all these advantages and opportunities which is helping them in developing a global platform for future to provide innovative ways to address wellness and health challenges. Walgreen Boots Alliance has been included in the list of World’s Most Admired Companies in Fortune Magazine 2018. Walgreen Boots has been able to generate sales of $116 Billion with an overall profit of $4.2 billion in the year 2017. It has a market value of around $89 billion in the year 2017.

Sales (Billion): $116.00

Profit (Billion): $4.2

2. CVS Pharmacy

CVS was originally named as Consumer Value Stores and was founded in 1963 in Lowell, Massachusetts.


It is a subsidiary of health care company CVS Health and is headquartered in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. It is the largest pharmacy chain in US and its biggest competitor in this space is Walgreen Boots Alliance which has been ranked among the top according to Fortune 500 in 2016. It has more than 9600 stores worldwide and has been ranked 7th largest US Corporation by Fortune 500 in 2016. CVS sells prescribed drugs, beauty products & cosmetics, seasonal merchandise, greeting card and medicines can be ordered online also through attracted 26 million visitors annually by 2008. CEO Tom Ryan considers CVS as “Convenience, value & Service.” In year 2015, CVS acquired Targets pharmacy and retail clinic businesses which let CVS to expand its operations in Seattle, Denver, Salt Lake City and Portland. CVS acquired Eckerd drug stores, Eckerd Health Services and also fragmented store operations of supermarket chain Albertsons. It also acquired Minneapolis based largest retail-based health clinics “Minuteclinic”. It has been able to achieve sales figure of $177 Billion and able to mint profit of $5.3 Billion in the year 2017.

Sales (Billion): $177.00

Profit (Billion): $13.60

1. Walmart

Walmart Inc. is an US retail giant and was founded by Sam Walton in the year 1962.

Image: Wikimedia

Walmart has more than 11000 stores and is operating across 25 countries under 50+ different names. Walmart was able to generate $480 billion of revenue and was able establish it as world’s largest company by revenue according to Fortune Global 500 list in 2016. The revenue generated through its ecommerce operations is just 4% of its overall revenue. Walmart is famous among its customers because Walmart customers able to purchase products at very low price on any day. The reason behind selling items at lower price is that Walmart is able to achieve economies of scales. Walmart analyse large amount of user data which allows them to optimise their operations by predicting consumer’s habits. Now Walmart is focussing more on expanding online commerce. In year 2016, it acquired to compete with Walmart’s US ecommerce CEO considering doubling their warehouses for ecommerce to enhance consumers digital experience. In early 2006 when India had strict FDI regulations, Walmart announced a joint venture with Bharti Enterprise. Bharti enterprise would handle the front end retail stores and Walmart takes care of cold chain and logistics. Now Walmart is in talks to buy India’s ecommerce giant Flipkart at a valuation close to $20 billion. If the deal goes through, it will pose a great threat and competition to Amazon’s India ecommerce operations.

Sales (Billion): $485.00

Profit (Billion): $13.60

Ranking Methodology:

1. The leading retail companies in the world are considered

2. Parameters like sales and profits are considered

3. The final ranks are calculated based these parameters

This article has been researched & authored by the Content & Research Team. It has been reviewed & published by the MBA Skool Team. The content on MBA Skool has been created for educational & academic purpose only.

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