South Africa’s Massmart joins others in scaling back East Africa branches

South Africa’s Massmart joins others in scaling back East Africa branches

Massmart’s chief executive Mitch Slape speaks at a function in Johannesburg, South Africa, February 19, 2020. REUTERS/Nqobile Dludla//File Photo South African retailer Massmart has said it has put up 14 of its stores in both East and West Africa so it can focus on its core strengths, as it tries to recoup losses from the half year that ended in June 2021.

On a call with investors, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) listed company’s CEO said the company would be divesting from its Game Stores branches in: Nigeria, five branches;

Ghana, four branches;

Kenya, two branches;

Tanzania, one branch;

Uganda, one branch.

The announcement follows a domestic scale back announced earlier in the year, as part of the retailer’s turnaround plan. At the time, CEO Mitch Slape said the company would shut down underperforming stores and exit the fresh food business. The company now plans to sell off its Rhino and Cambridge Food businesses in its home market to rival Shoprite, while seeking a buyer for its branches in the five other markets.

It will retain some presence in Kenya, in the form of a branch of Builders, a home improvement and building materials store it opened in Nairobi a year ago.

“We’ve commenced a formal sales process,” Slape said during the investor call, “we’re currently in discussions with potential purchasers to take on those stores.” First Shoprite, then Massmart

Massmart’s planned exit from East Africa came just a week after Shoprite also announced it would be selling its five branches in Uganda and ten in Madagascar.

The exit from Uganda, where it has had a presence since 2000, means that the South African retailer will not have any presence in East Africa. It sold off its assets in Tanzania in 2014 to Nakumatt, and exited the Kenyan market in early 2021.Among other reasons, both retail giants cite currency devaluations, high inflation and lower commodity prices for their exits. Getting a foothold in Kenya Their exits from the Kenyan market have followed a long string of South African businesses that have struggled to gain a foothold in the East African market, even before the Covid-19 pandemic. While some South African enterprises such as Multichoice and Absa have had a long presence in the country, others have often exited after just a few years.Before the Shoprite and Game Stores exits, Botswana-based retailer Choppies had also exited the market after a short run. Fashion retailer […]

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