Bulgaria - Country Commercial Guide
Distribution and Sales Channels
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Some of Bulgaria’s large hypermarkets and supermarket chains are merging, new entities are being rebranded, others are closing down, and a few others are opening new outlets. There are approximately 90 shopping malls in Bulgaria.

Bulgaria’s distribution channels include these main sectors and brands: 

  • Grocery hypermarkets:
    • Kaufland: 62 stores
    • Lidl: 115  stores
    • Billa: 149 stores
    • METRO Cash & Carry: 11 stores
    • T-market: 115 stores
    • Hit: 2 stores
    • CBA: 127
  • DIY hypermarkets:
    • Praktiker: 15 stores
    • Mr. Bricolage: 12 stores
    • Bauhaus/HomeMax: 23 stores (acqured by BauMax)
    • Praktis: 8 stores
    • Masterhaus: 5 stores
    • TeMax: 17 stores
  • Local food supermarket chains:
    • Fantastico: 41 stores
    • 345 chain: 16 stores
    • ParkMart: 6 stores
    • ProMarket: 20 stores
    • DAR: 10 stores
  • Consumer electronics hypermarkets:
    • Technomarket: 49 stores
    • Technopolis: 34 stores
    • Zora: 37 stores
    • Densi: 4 stores
    • Techmart: 22 stores
    • Technomix: 4 stores
  • Furniture and household goods hypermarkets:
  • Aiko: 5 stores
  • Como: 1 store
  • IKEA: 6 stores
  • Jysk: 51 stores
  • Mömax: 5 stores
  • NANI Home: 9 stores
  • Yavor: 4 stores
  • Enikom M: 3 stores
  • Other retailers include:
    • Decathlon: 11 stores
    • Pepco: 143 stores
    • Kik: 40 stores
    • TEDi: 7 stores
    • Intersport: 10 stores
    • Sport Depot: 3 stores
    • Deichmann: 11 stores
    • Humanic: 6 stores
    • CCC: 13 stores
    • Jumbo: 11 stores
    • Petmall: 13 stores
    • Hippoland: 26 stores

Using an Agent to Sell U.S. Products and Services

Large U.S. companies and U.S. SMEs alike are strongly encouraged to identify a reliable, vetted, and proven agent or distributor when doing business in Bulgaria.

Bulgaria has numerous business associations that include the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria, the Bulgarian Industrial Association. The Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry that can be resources.  

As most EU regulations and legislation apply in Bulgaria, additional information can be found in the European Union’s Commercial Guide developed by the U.S. Mission to the EU.

See: https://www.export.gov/article?id=European-Union-Market-Overview

Establishing an Office

A representative office is not a legal entity in Bulgaria and may not carry out commercial activities.  However, a company can establish a representative office for performing sales promotions, exhibitions, demonstrations, training, and advertising products by registering with the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI).

Тhe representative office of a foreign company must register with BULSTAT) within seven days of registering with the BCCI. The representative office receives the funds for its maintenance from the foreign entity but cannot make a profit or have its own revenue.

For a representative office to be registered with the BCCI, it is necessary that the legal representative of the foreign entity personally or explicitly authorized by a notarized power of attorney from the entity apply for registration and provide the necessary documentation.

  • A branch of a foreign entity can be registered in Bulgaria as:
  • a limited liability company called an ‘OOD’ which is popular with foreign investors, or,
  • a one-person owned limited liability company called an ‘EOOD’
  • Bulgaria operates under the Law on Encouragement of Investments which has the following key elements:
  • defines an office’s activities
  • defines various forms of economic associations and regulates their foundation, organization, and termination
  • offers advantages for foreign and local investments, which are determined depending on the investment amount, i.e., Class A, Class B and Class C (Class C is only for municipalities)
  • identifies priority investment projects, and
  • offers new amendments designed to ease procedures for obtaining a certificate for investment (anticipated soon).

See: https://investbg.government.bg/

For the latest Investment Climate Statement (ICS) which includes information on investment and business environments in foreign economies pertinent to establishing and operating an office and to hiring employees, visit the U.S. Department of Department of State’s Investment Climate Statements website.


The first international franchisors, Sheraton Hotel (currently Sofia Hotel Balkan), Hertz, Novotel, and Coca-Cola, appeared in Bulgaria over 40 years ago, during the communist era.  While the total number of international and domestic franchise units has increased in recent years, the Bulgarian market for international franchises still offers opportunities in multiple sectors. 

Spurred by an increase in disposable income and growth of the middle-class, as well as an increasingly Western-orientated taste, Bulgarians recognize, embrace, and want more “western” franchises. This emerging market is ripe for franchises as Bulgarian consumers seek retailers that can provide a consistent selection of quality products, reasonable prices, and good service.  Bulgarian entrepreneurs are eager to obtain marketing and management expertise. Currently, there are no franchise laws or specific regulations pertaining to this business model and no specific registration or government approval is required to establish a franchise enterprise.

Many U.S. fast-food franchises operate in Bulgaria’s major cities, dominated by such iconic brands as McDonalds, Domino’s Pizza, KFC, Starbucks, Burger King, and Subway. Domino’s Pizza entered Bulgaria in 2010 and has expanded its business to 27 dine-in and takeaway restaurants in four major cities. McDonalds has 40 restaurants in 11 cities throughout Bulgaria. SAMEX Ltd, one of the operators of the KFC restaurants in Bulgaria, has 14 outlets in Sofia, while the other operator, AmRest, has four outlets in Sofia.

Some iconic franchise brands, such as Dunkin’ Donuts and Pizza Hut, left the Bulgarian market. The second wave of COVID-19 epidemic in Bulgaria led to the closure of Dunkin’ Donuts, which was present on the domestic market since 1996.

The best sub-sector prospects for U.S. franchises include the following:

  • Senior care and services
  • Dine-in and takeaway restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • Lodging (hotels, motels, and chalets)
  • Laundry and dry-cleaning
  • Hotel management
  • Real estate brokerage
  • Nutrition and supplement industry products
  • Employment/educational/training services
  • Cosmetics services and brands.

Franchise opportunities also exist for: convenience stores, ice cream/yogurt stores, hardware stores, marketing/public relations agencies, specialty retail stores, supermarket chains, commercial and residential cleaning entities, baked foods, hair/nail care salons, as well as candy and snack establishments.

FRANCHISE EXPO, held annually in New York, offers the opportunity for potential franchisees to network and connect with franchisor, experienced financial advisors, business mentors, and industry experts in the franchising community. For more information, visit: https://www.franchiseexpo.com/ife/

Direct Marketing

Direct marketing through catalogs, telemarketing and the Internet from the United States to Bulgaria is relatively underdeveloped, but difficult due to Bulgaria’s low purchasing power, the high cost of shipping, and the lack of security for packages.  The use of debit and credit cards increased significantly during the last several years, but cash is still more prevalent than in other EU countries.

  • Some Central European companies offer direct marketing of U.S. products in Bulgaria, and use television home shopping “infomercials” to sell products such as kitchen tools and fitness equipment not available in local shops
  • Home demonstrations are not popular and have generated little success; however, Avon and Oriflame (Swedish) have gained traction with the direct sale of cosmetics.
  • For EU regulations and legislation on direct marketing, please see:
  • https://www.trade.gov/eu-standards Image removed.

Joint Ventures (JVs)/Licensing

U.S. enterprises can establish their own companies or invest in existing companies:

  • JVs with state-owned companies (wholly owned by the Bulgarian State), must be approved by the Council of Ministers or by the relevant Minister
  • JVs are evaluated for their existing assets and the contribution the foreign partner will provide either in cash, long-term assets (i.e., existing equipment and facilities), and/or in-kind
  • JVs with private companies do not require government involvement or approval.  After negotiations are complete the new legal entity must register with the Commercial Registry.  JVs are subject to the provisions of Law on Protection of Competition, which regulates the concentration of economic activity.

Express Delivery

Bulgaria has a robust express delivery system that offers numerous domestic, American and European express delivery companies. The major international delivery companies are:

  • Fedex
  • DHL Express Bulgaria
  • In Time LD
  • UPS
  • GLC
  • EMS
  • Bulgarian Posts
  • Interlogistics
  • Express One

The two biggest domestic delivery companies are:

Econt. The company has more than 550 offices in Bulgaria and is the biggest courirer, with 42,4% market share.

Speedy (part of DPD, providing delivery from Bulgaria to Europe). The company has а market share of over 33 percent, with 600 offices and automatic postal stations, covering 100% of Bulgaria’s territory.

Using experienced and well-known delivery services is important to ensure packages arrive safely at their final destination. To receive deliveries from the United States, one must pay a 20 percent VAT, and if the item costs more than EUR 150, an additional duty is charged. Sometimes postal costs are also added to the final sum. Technical equipment, such as computers, tablets, and smartphones, is exempt from duty regardless of the value. For alcoholic products, perfumes, toilet waters, and tobacco products, regardless of the price, both VAT and a duty have to be paid. In the case of parcels from a non-commercial sender, such as a gift from a relative, a duty and VAT is not owed if the shipment value is less than EUR 45.

Due Diligence

The Commerce Department’s U.S. Commercial Service office in Sofia strongly recommends that all U.S. companies acquire a recent due-diligence report on potential partners. The Commercial Service Office Sofia offers two types of fee-based reports that evaluate potential business partners: the Full International Company Profile (ICP) service, a 10-15-page report with checked references, detailed background information and sector overview; and the Partial International Company Profile - usually 4-5 pages with more basic publicly available information. The Full ICP report includes answers to questions, an interview and photos of the executives and office of the potential Bulgarian company. For additional details, see https://www.trade.gov/let-our-experts-help-0

Additional local due diligence sources and services include:

  • Credit Reform Bulgaria
  • DAXY provides information on official court and tax documents, address registration for Bulgarian companies, major shareholders, balance sheets, direct and indirect connections between and among managers and other Bulgarian companies and other public information
  • Dun and Bradstreet is utilized, more and more, by Bulgarian companies.
  • Bulgaria’s Special Administrative Directorate Financial Intelligence (SADFI) receives, saves, examines, analyses, and discloses to law enforcement bodies information connected with the suspicion of money laundering or the financing of terrorist activities. 
  • A Bulgarian company’s financial situation can be reviewed at the Ministry of Justice Commercial Register’s site