Mercator is set to be taken over by Croatian retailer Agrokor

Mercator is set to be taken over by Croatian retailer Agrokor

Balkans retailer Mercator has forecast it will move back into profit in 2014 despite lower sales.

Slovenia-based Mercator, which is lined up to be taken over by Croatian rival Agrokor, has estimated it will post a net profit of EUR339,000 (US$446,000) next year. The result would be a "considerable improvement" over the expected figure for 2013, Mercator said.

In the first nine months of this year, Mercator ran up a EUR17.6m loss. Revenue was down 3.6% at EUR2.06bn as Mercator quit Albania and Bulgaria, plus closed stores in other markets.

Mercator, runs a variety for store formats across five regional markets, forecast sales of EUR2.67bn in 2014, 3.5% lower than the result it expects this year. It said closing unprofitable stores, exiting "non-strategic markets" and "persistently harsh economic conditions".

The retailer said it expects to spend EUR58.9m in 2014 on refurbishing stores and acquiring new space.

Last month, Slovenia's competition watchdog gave the green light to Agrokor's plan to buy 51% of Mercator. Croatia's anti-trust authorities are still scrutinising the deal.