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South Africa-based Woolworths and OK Zimbabwe have released their latest financial statements. Meanwhile, wholesaler and retailer Sefalana has successfully trialled 10 Botswana Post kiosks in stores in its home market.

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SPAR South Africa's CEO, Graham O’Connor, has reported a growth in sales following the company's 2018 full year results. O'Connor said that the retailer's South African operations had benefited from  President Cyril Ramaphosa’s drive to encourage inward investment into the country. At a group level, SPAR South Africa said its turnover grew 5.8%, while operating profit rose 7.9%.

Investment drive starting to pay off

After being elected in February 2018, Ramaphosa prioritised rebuilding South Africa’s economy by encouraging local and foreign business investment. O’Connor supported the drive to create a more business-friendly environment, stating that the “Government is listening to business”.

According to O’Connor, the Government’s efforts is starting to pay off, with sales increasing since the end of the financial year in September 2018. SPAR’s overall turnover and operating profit increased 6% to ZAR103bn (US$7.2bn) and 7.9% to ZAR2.78bn (US$195m) respectively.

Southern Africa: biggest driver of growth

The group’s operations in Southern Africa was reported the biggest driver of growth, increasing turnover by 6.7% to ZAR68.8bn (US$4.8bn). SPAR’s operations in South Africa particularly benefitted from its extensive network of stores. The network is due to expand following the recent agreement with Shell to operate forecourt stores.

The retailer also attributes growth to its liquor, pharmaceuticals and DIY segments and the acquisition of pharmaceuticals wholesaler S Buys in 2017. O’Connor explained that the acquisition allowed its pharmacies to source more affordable products.

Ireland and Switzerland operations

SPAR Ireland’s turnover and operating profit grew 9.6% to ZAR22.49bn (US$1.58bn) and 13% to ZAR574.4m (US$40.3m) respectively. Elsewhere in Switzerland, turnover fell from ZAR10.4bn (US$730m) to ZAR9.8bn (US$687m) due to stores closures. However, operating profit grew from ZAR69m (US$4.8m) to ZAR124.9m (US$8.76m).

Spar South Africa has revealed plans to develop its digital strategy. The retailer hopes it will “streamline its IT operations and maintain its competitive edge in the local retail market”.

SPAR adopts Microsoft Office 365

The retailer has adopted Microsoft Office 365 and the cloud computing service Microsoft Azure. Greg Hay, group technology and operations executive at the SPAR Group, explained, “The cloud gives us the flexibility and scalability we need to expand operations at will... At a tactical level, we’re using the Microsoft Cloud to implement practical steps that drastically reduce IT overhead and make us a nimbler company”.

Set-up time reduced from hours to minutes

Following its adoption of Microsoft’s software, SPAR’s set-up time has been reduced from hours to minutes. It has also said that issues can also be resolved quicker with Microsoft professional direct support. This increased efficiency is in line with the retailer’s wider digital transformation plan.

South Africa-based Pick n Pay reports its strongest six-month trading performance for five years. The retailer also extends its partnership with BP to benefit its loyalty programme customers.

Positive H1 2018 results…

Pick n Pay has reported growth of 19.1% in profit before tax in H1 2018. Profit reached ZAR670.2m (US$46.8m) compared with ZAR562.8m (US$39.3m) in H1 2017. The retailer’s LFL and total sales also increased by 3.8% and 6.4% respectively.

…in a tough economic climate

Pick n Pay attributes the growth to lowering its prices and increasing productivity. The retailer reduced the prices of 2,500 everyday grocery products to help customers in South Africa’s tough economic climate.

Richard Brasher, Pick n Pay’s chief executive, commented, “We have invested heavily in our customers, just when they need it most”.

Extended partnership with BP

Pick n Pay has extended its partnership with BP to develop its Smart Shopper loyalty programme. Loyalty customers will soon be able to earn points from refuelling at BP service stations.

John Bradshaw, Pick n Pay’s head of marketing, commented, “We are always looking to improve the Smart Shopper programme to make it more accessible and valuable. Our customers have told us they want more opportunities to earn points through their everyday spend, so we were excited to extend our partnership with BP to offer them this value”.

Pick n Pay first partnered with BP in 2008 with a trial of two franchised stores. There are now 133 franchise Pick n Pay Express stores on BP forecourts across South Africa. A further 30 stores are expected to open in 2018 and 40 in 2019.

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