South African Shoprite Holdings SHPJ.J will move into Kenya, where weakened competitor positions have opened an opportunity for Africa’s biggest grocer to expand its presence in East Africa, its chief executive Pieter Engelbrecht said on Tuesday.
South African retailers have struggled to lift earnings at home as high household debts squeeze consumer income, although Shoprite has fared better than others with its focus on budget-conscious consumers, including more than 10 million South Africans on welfare grants.
To diversify its earnings base, it has expanded deeper into the rest of Africa to take advantage of oil-rich Nigeria and Angola and now Kenya.
“We have not changed our focus to say we’re not looking at the continent anymore. We have grabbed that opportunity, we’re going to Kenya,” Engelbrecht said at the presentation of the company’s half-year results.
Shares in Shoprite were up 3.88 percent to 267.99 rand by 0737 GMT.
Shoprite, which reported a 14.2 percent increase in half-year headline earnings per share, expects to be in Kenya before the end of 2018.
“Five years ago, Kenya wasn’t considered by us because they had three very big retailers there,” said Engelbrecht.
“Starting last year … the retailers in Kenya were in total disarray and we were able to secure seven sites and leases.”