Choppies commits to Zimbabwean market

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Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE)-listed supermarket group Choppies says while it has divested from loss-making markets, it remains committed to managed expansion in Zimbabwe and two other countries.

In Zimbabwe, the group has a total of 32 supermarkets four of which are value stores while 28 are super stores.

Chairman, Uttum Corea, in the 2021 annual report, said the group’s divestiture from loss-making regions in South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya and Tanzania was substantially concluded during the past year and that made a significant difference to overall performance as the Botswana operations had maintained profitability throughout.

“We remain committed to slow and managed expansion in other areas that show potential and have therefore focused on Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia outside our home market of Botswana,” he said.

He said over the years, operations in Zimbabwe required Choppies to source goods that were supplied locally due to an exit in foreign suppliers and the experience has presented many valuable lessons and an opportunity to transform local suppliers.

“This resulted in a win-win for both Choppies and the suppliers,” Mr Corea said. He said the Group will continue to address the socio-economic difficulties facing its customers by offering high-quality, affordable food to all customers while also creating significant job and economic possibilities throughout its value chain.

Corea noted high levels of instability within the political and economic sectors which have resulted in a shortage in foreign exchange for the payment of goods and a reduction in buying power for local workers.

He, however, noted that the situation is expected to improve in the future and the economy will very likely boom as the country has plenty of natural resources especially minerals such as gold and platinum around which the economy could be reactivated.

“Even though most of the population has lost its buying power very drastically, there are still groups of consumers who receive salaries in USD and are interested in goods and produce of better quality and higher price,” he said.

He said Choppies is developing new additional money transfer systems for remittances to local customers that have relatives working abroad.

Mr Corea noted that hyperinflation in Zimbabwe had started to stabilise and the group continued to consolidate its position in the country.

During the 2021 financial year, group revenue decreased by 1,7 percent to BWP5 331 million mainly as a result of negative volume growth in Botswana due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy and consumer spend.

The Rest of Africa revenue increased by 2,2 percent to BWP1 186 million driven by inflationary increases in Zimbabwe and Zambia which were further offset by negative fluctuations in currency exchange rates.