Trade Tatler
“More than ever before, consumers have the ability to unify their voices and coalesce their buying power to influence corporate behaviors.”
Simon Mainwaring

TATLER ARCHIVE

THIS ISSUE:     11 May - 17 May

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RETAILERS AND WHOLESALERS

SPAR  Drumroll please!

As we await the upcoming SPAR half-year results at the end of the month, let’s take a moment to reflect on how things went for the Group during its previous financial year and the strategy that has been in play since. In FY2017, the SPAR Group delivered turnover growth of +5.3%, muted relative to its prior two financial periods. Modest turnover growth of +4.5% was reported in Southern Africa (despite double-digit growth in TOPS at SPAR liquor stores), which the Group attributed to the impact of a highly competitive retail market and depressed consumer spending. A slight decline in local gross profit margin from 8.24% to 8.17% is suggestive of SPAR supporting its retailers through better pricing. Then there were acquisitions, growth in store count, revamps, increased focus on efficiencies etc. etc. etc. If you’re itching to know more, and you’d be right, click right on over here.
Comment: We always look forward to the results of a proudly Durban-run business such as ours. Go, that sprightly little green tree.

Tatler Reporter 07/05/18

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Shoprite  Just… wow

The gift of laughter is a precious thing. Which was doubtless the thinking behind the Gifts to Wow Mom display, packed to the rafters with household cleaning products, in their Checkers Van Der Lingen store in Paarl last month. An honest mistake, which like others before it went viral before the PR people had managed to tweet out an apology. This hot on the heels of a controversial TV campaign which had a daughter aspiring to work at Shoprite like her mom, and a viewer complaining that the ad set a low bar for achievement. The Advertising Standards Authority found in favour of Shoprite, establishing that the ad did nothing to “withhold benefits, opportunities or advantages from black people” and various commentators pointing out additionally that Shoprite was also the provider of more traditionally aspirational positions as well as its nevertheless still valuable blue-collar opportunities.
Comment: Anyone offer us a job at Shoprite, let’s just say we’d be flattered at the very least.

Tatler Reporter 07/05/18

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Pep Stores  The Pepman always rings twice

OK, this might be a slippery slope, but slow news week. You know, as a loyal reader, that we honest FMCG types don’t like to concern ourselves with the doings of the rag trade too much. It’s all a bit above our heads to be honest. But Pep is related by marriage to Shoprite on Uncle Christo’s side, and this is news with far-reaching implications: they’ve gone and launched a parcel service, called Paxi (you figure out the name) which allows consumers, agents, suppliers, and institutions to send, collect, and return parcels to over 2,000 Pep store collection points i.e. they’re taking on the Post Office. Obviously, the initial target market is Pep customers, but given there are over 2,000 Peps in malls and sleepy main streets all over the Beloved Country, the service is likely to extend much further, while increasing the Pep customer base.
Comment: Meanwhile, over in the US, President Trump has accused Amazon of hijacking the postal service.

Tatler Reporter 07/05/18

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MANUFACTURERS AND SERVICE PROVIDERS

Astral Foods  Astranomical

Nice work from Astral who have survived the general malaise of poultry and a nasty bout of the bird flu to deliver a banging set of interims for the six months through March, a time that now seems lost in the mists of Trump. Revenue was up 15% to R6.7bn, with operating profit up 392.6% to R1.04bn. Yes, 392.6. Yes, billion. This on a significant – their word, not ours – improvement in the profitability of the poultry division. But this being poultry, CEO Chris Schutte had some gloomy words to say about competition from pork (listeria presumably notwithstanding) and about the nefarious activities of low-priced producers in the US and Brazil. The plan for the next three years is to drop R1.3bn on increasing capacity and efficiencies and grow market share from 27% to 31%.
Comment: Just unbelievable, and a testament not just to Astral but the resilience of the sector and our businesses as a whole, and of course the insatiable demand of the South Africa punter for our protein of choice.

IOL 15/05/18

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AB InBev  Barley legal

Beer – even beer produced by very large businesses – is made using barley, hops, checked shirts and beards, but it is only the forts of these with which we shall concern ourselves here. Farmers in the rolling hills of our barley growing regions, you see, have filed a complaint with the Competition Commission against AB InBev on the grounds that the latter have contravened the terms of the agreement set when it acquired SABMiller, by changing the price it intends to pay for the 2018 barley crop, from – pay attention here – 102% of the price of second-tier wheat to 97% of the price for top grade wheat. Bottom line: producers will receive R100 less for a ton of the hearty grain. The problem here is that AB InBev buy 85% to 90% of the malted barley grown in South Africa and enjoy a certain, shall we say, buying power. Although to be fair, part of the merger deal was that the business would increase its buy from the 415,000 tons it intends to procure in 2018 to 475,000.
Comment: Tricky stuff, but then this is why we have a Competition Commission, isn’t it?

Business Day 08/05/18

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TRADE ENVIRONMENT

Africa  Next stop Wakanda

Hot on the heels of the success of Black Panther comes this: a report from Euromonitor thrillingly entitled Shifting Market Frontiers: Africa Rising, which makes for exciting if challenging reading for those businesses with a foothold on this great continent we call home. To the numbers: retailers raked in over $350bn in 2017. Traditional or independent grocery retailers, which still dominate trade on the continent, scored over $125bn of this – a number which is likely to rise as income inequality increases here as elsewhere. In places like Nigeria, where the penetration of modern retail has reached just 5%, traditional informal channels, such as open-air markets, provide the stiffest competition for the likes of Shoprite. By contrast, modern retail is responsible for over 70% of all goods sold back here at home. And this from StatsSA: while retail trade sales grew just 2.9% in the annus horribilis that was 2017, retailers of food and beverages saw sales rise 5%.
Comment: We have a mighty platform here at home and market share for the taking elsewhere in Africa, is the message. Go north, young retailer.

Tatler Reporter 11/05/18

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IN BRIEF

Dis-Chem  The Fresh Prince of P&L

Big up to young Rui Morais, CFO of Dis-Chem, who was just crowned young CFO of the year at the CFO South Africa CFO Awards. (Do they crown CFOs? Pse check – Ed). He was also knighted with the Orders of the Strategy Execution Award and the Finance & Technology Award. (Oh come on – Ed). A feather in the cap of Dis-Chem, to put their numbers in the hands of one so youthful.

Tatler Reporter 15/05/18

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Pick n Pay  Forward Share

Pick n Pay and Mastercard have teamed up to feed the hungry while promoting Mastercard’s “Tap & Go” payment option. Between now and mid-July, all punters availing themselves of the service at a Pick n Pay tillpoint will trigger a meal donation from Mastercard as part of their global 100-Million Meals programme, by which they are hoping to help reverse the spiral of poverty, eliminating hunger, driving inclusion, and enabling and empowering those in need. The meals in question will be distributed to vulnerable women and children by FoodForward SA, one of Pick n Pay’s key CSR partners, through its network of non-profit organisations.

Tatler Reporter 07/05/18

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Pioneer Foods  Week, week-and-a-half tops

Procrastinating like a common Tatler editor this week was the Competition Commission which is kicking its heels over whether to let Pioneer buy the half of the local Kraft Heinz business it does not already own, while muttering something about additional documentation being needed. The Comish has already given its broad nod to the deal, provided that it does not result on the loss of more than an oddly-specific 27 jobs.

Business Day 10/05/18

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