Trade Tatler
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
William Shakespeare


THIS ISSUE:     12 Aug - 16 Aug

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Shoprite  Showdown at the OK Corral

Something of an imbroglio – is that a word? – over at Shoprite, where The Big Red One is struggling to get minority shareholders to embrace the idea of a R1.7bn payout to one Mr James W. “Whitey” Basson, latterly the CEO. Mr J.W., you see, has an agreement that when it came time for him to offload his Shoprite shares, Shoprite itself would snaffle them all up, lock stock and barrel, at the asking price on the day. Shoprite have beaten him down on this – from R211 per share to R201, and RMB, canvassed for an opinion, has declared the payment fair to shareholders. Shoprite have also promised the establishment of an R84m fund to educate the previously disadvantaged, presumably as a sweetener to shareholders like the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), who might otherwise have stymied Whitey’s bonsela. However, the re-purchase requires 75% shareholder approval, and given that only a few at the top actually knew about the deal in the first place, this majority is far from guaranteed. 
Comment: It is going to be fascinating to see how this one plays out. Whitey Basson is not generally the one who blinks first.

Business Day 10/08/17

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Pick n Pay  Get Smart

Pick n Pay has just released its new smartphone app, and it’s a scorcher. Downloaded 10,000 times within the first 24 hours of release of the Android version, the app includes such innovations as a barcode scanner which will automatically add items to your shopping list, new recipes every month with the functionality to add ingredients to your list and an online record of your shopping history – again, with the ability to add repeat purchases to your list. You getting the swing of this? It’s all about the list! And of course about Smart Shopper, with points added to your card where relevant, and with the ability to buy data, electricity and airtime on your Smart Shopper account. The app also sends you personal discounts, which you can redeem in store, and expedites not just your shopping but your checkout process. 
Comment: Is this integration of Smart Shopper – in which PnP have invested heavily – one of their tickets back to the glory days? Certainly, they’re ahead of the competition as things stand; the only issue is scale.

Business Tech 07/08/17

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International Retailers  Is the grass really greener?

Like Pick n Pay on these shores, UK retailer Sainsbury’s is attempting to claw back profitability by shedding jobs, with 1,000 positions at head office set to go as part of its £500m cost-cutting strategy. The decline of the pound post-Brexit and the subsequent rise in expenses is substantially to blame for the strappedness of the business; so too might be the recent £1.4bn acquisition of Argos and Habitat. And oddly, it may be considering another acquisition: inspired by the recent Tesco/Booker deal, other UK outfits might be looking at getting into wholesale, including Sainsbury’s (rumoured to be sniffing around Nisa) and Morrisons’s (McColl’s). And the SPAR Group in the UK is breaking up, commentators speculate, because one of its members there is looking at a bigger box format. 
Comment: There was a time not so long ago when retailers globally could make a buck, or indeed a pound, without scratching for it. Those days are over, perhaps for good.

Tatler Reporter 10/08/17

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Premier Foods  Just Sue It™

OK here’s a weird one for you, not sure how this even got to where it did on the first place: Premier Foods, established almost 200 years ago, said last week that they were taking to court one Premier Food and Fishing (Est. 1952) for the use of a name which reason dictates belongs to the older business. PFF quickly agreed to completely change its name to the unrecognisably different Premier Fishing and Brands, and the lawyers were headed off at the gulch, their dreams of new BMWs and Breitling watches dashed for now. It doesn’t sound like much of a solution to us, but what do we know? There’s a posh magazine out there with our name on it after all. But to clear up any confusion that may remain in the minds of our readers: Premier Foods: 200 years old, owned by Brait – Iwisa, Manhattan, Lil-Lets, Dove cotton wool, BB Bread etc. Premier Fishing and Brands: Sixty-something, owned by African Equity Empowerment Investments – lobster tails, abalone, pilchards.

Comment: Or you could just come to us and for ten grand we’d give you a brand spanking name and throw in a logo for another twenty. And a false moustache for free.

IOL 10/08/17

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Sea Harvest  Well, shiver our timbers.

Among old seadogs like ourselves, a boat is known as a hole in the ocean that you fill up with money. Not so for Sea Harvest, who have just bought a boat from which they hope to actually extract money. The vessel in question is the Sterkoder-class freezer ship MV Therney purchased from an Icelandic company for the consideration of R181.5 big ones (that’s millions to you). This in keeping with Sea Harvest’s stated intent of pursuing growth by acquisition and organically. Parent company Brimstone has invested R776m in Sea Harvest through capex and reinvested profits, allowing Sea Harvest to invest in ships and in plant upgrades and plant efficiencies. Last year, you will recall, Sea Harvest invested some R250m of this in poshly-named Aussie outfit Mareterram. All of this tells the story of a business plying a swashbuckling trade on the high seas; indeed, Sea Harvest has sustained a compound annual growth rate of 15% over the past five years, with 59% of its revenues generated in hard currencies like Australian dollars and Euro. 
Comment: Some maritime arcana for you, from an absolute corker of a business.

IOL 14/08/17

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The Economy  Hunkering down

May marked the fourth straight month of retail sales growth here in the Beloved Country, after the bloodbath in the first quarter when sales fell -3.5%. The positive trend is anticipated to continue for the month of June when the hoary sages at StatsSA get around to releasing the numbers later this week. Some economists have suggested that growth could be as high as – get this – 2.5%! This in part is driven by the slight decrease in inflation, and perhaps by a mild boost in consumer confidence as the Reserve Bank relaxes the interest rate by a quarter of a percent. In the meantime, consumers are attempting to keep the wolves from the door by paying down their debt, with the level of household debt to disposable income down to 73%, its lowest level since the global financial crisis. In the meantime, manufacturing production increased by 1.5% in the second quarter of 2017 compared with the first quarter, which suggests that our months of recession might be drawing to a close. 
Comment: Resilient is perhaps not the word for our economy right now. But stoic might be.

Business Day 10/08/17, 11/08/17

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RCL FOODS  An ill wind

RCL FOODS, like Astral before it, has fallen victim to the latest bout of Avian influenza, with an outbreak at a minor breeding facility on the Viva farm near Muldersdrift. This as the price of chicken rises 5% – perhaps as a result of shrinking local supply. 

IOL 14/08/17

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FutureLife  Apologies

Last week, we mentioned erroneously that FutureLife had been acquired by Pioneer Foods a while back. In fact, as we knew, FutureLife had sold 50% of its stock to Pioneer in a joint venture deal in 2015, a deal which has allowed both businesses to explore profitable categories outside of their respective traditional markets, and to unlock new product opportunities.

Tatler Reporter 14/08/17

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Wellness Warehouse  Well, well

Wellness Warehouse, the niche retailer of all things health and wellness, now has 26 stores in Gauteng and the Western Cape, and has plans to open another 30 in the next few years. Inspired by the Whole Foods model, the Gomes brother who founded the business have already begun experimenting with perishables and fresh food at the Kloof Street store, and have ambitions to expand this offering. We’ll keep you posted.

Business Times 13/08/17

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