Trade Tatler
“You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”
Robin Williams


THIS ISSUE:     19 Aug - 25 Aug

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Shoprite  I am just a simple farm boy, you know, with hayseeds in my hair and a dream in my heart.

What do you want to know? Turnover up 7.3% to R72.298bn or 9.7% if you disregard 2010’s extra week, turnover in Africa up 4.5% on a 52-week basis, and on rand terms, although a rosier picture at 12.8% if you’re counting in the various local currencies, new stores for the spanking new FY = 74, of which 16 will be elsewhere in Africa, and that also excludes Usaves which are breeding like extremely efficient, yellow breeding things. Canaries, perhaps? And don’t even get us started on the old bottom line. With trading margin holding steady at a brisk 5.5%, operating profit was up 15.4% to 3.9biljoens, in a year which brought its vagaries of fortune: foreign competition, low food inflation, crashing prices in GM, sarcastic tweets from internet whizzkid Grant Pattison and the small matter of R70million worth of Shoprite shares which disappeared into a regulatory black hole in Zambia.
Comment: And the big red lorry keeps rolling on.

Tatler Reporter 25/08/11

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Pick n Pay  The prophet motive

Patrician, dignified and becoming by now accustomed to thundering like Jeremiah on a range of relevant subjects, Gareth Ackerman has weighed in on South Africa’s lack of flexibility in the labour market, and – get this – on government’s attempt to impose ex post facto conditions on Walmart’s merger with Massmart. On the former, opines Mr A, union intransigence on issues from wages to working hours has caused businesses like Pick n Pay to look at retrenchments, while on the latter, he believes that in a globalising economy, the government’s position on Walmart has investors running for the longboats, a situation we can ill afford. And on Walmart specifically, he believes that the arrival of Walmart forces everyone to up their game on the competition front, to the ultimate befit of Joe Punter and the missus.
Comment: Covering the bases, then.

Moneyweb 17/08/11

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Super Group  Wheely good news

There was a time when the Tatler ran red with stories of Super Group’s imminent demise. Those days, thankfully, are over, as the logistics giant posted a handsome set of results last week, with operating profit up 25% to R612million, and operating margin up a couple of notches to 7.8%. According to Peter, Lord Mountford, who heads up the plucky outfit, this great success was due substantially to the turnaround of the African Logistics supply chain operation from an R18.8millon loss last year to an undeniably more pleasing R16.69million rand profit. The decision to renew the aging fleet, with its scruffy, devil-may-care bush-pilot drivers and exorbitant repair costs had been a good one, said Lord M, who forked out R87 large for the replacement of 300 trucks with nearly new yankee vehicles.
Comment: As we have often told anyone who cares to listen, logistics is the business for South African money to be in, as Africa assumes its position as the last great commercial frontier for anything modern and organised.

Business Report 17/08/11

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SABMiller  Let me shareholders loose, Bruce

Foster’s have urged wavering shareholders to tell hostile takeoverer SABMiller to shove it up the proverbial jumper, as SAB slap a tempting A$11.2billion – or $4.90 a share – on the rough bluegum table in Fosters’ flyblown wood-and-iron boardroom. Foster’s CEO John “Bruce” Pollaers has dismissed the amount as so far away from reality as to be not worth engaging. Some of Foster’s lantern-jawed, sunburnt punters have urged the brewer to see if they can’t get the numbers up a little higher, but no. Foster’s price has risen to $5 a share on speculation that at the right price the owners may ready themselves to jump, but that price is held to be around $5.20.
Comment: And there we were thinking that Aussies enjoyed a bit of distance from reality...

Sunday Times 21/08/11

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Unilever  I saw it first!

Unilever anticipates that as growth remains sluggish in Europe and the US for the next ten years, it will continue to perform out of its freshly-laundered Falke socks in the emerging markets, whence it anticipates deriving 75% of its turnover by the end of this frankly loony decade we currently call home. Le Grand Bleu is already beating rivals P&G and Nestlé in countries where people do much of their laundry by hand, with Brazil, China, India and Turkey being among its star achievers, helping Unilever cruise comfortably in its targeted 4–6% growth band. Unilever is busy parcelling the world up into 8 mega-regions, which will see Unilever Turkey responsible for North Africa, the Middle East, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus inter alia, with a final daunting tally of 36 countries.
Comment: Dreams of a blue planet eh.

IOL 17/08/11

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Retail Sales  Up, up and away?

Retail sales, say the pipe-tugging beard-smokers down at StatsSA, were up a natz for the chilly month of June, after May’s debacle. Pharmaceuticals (no surprises there) and furniture (another oil heater, Mavis?) were the big performers, with hardware and food the weakest – food was reported to have declined by 8.4% year-on-year. Some retailers have defied this trend, with Captain Hook over at SPAR, for example, reporting good volumes growth and no appreciable decline in either food or hardware, and PnP’s Chairman Ackerman the Younger suggesting that his growing sales over the past few months were due in no small measure to the Smart Shopper loyalty programme.
Comment: The way things are at the mo, you might be looking for an uptick in sales due to pre-apocalyptic stockpiling.

Business Report 18/08/11

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Shoprite  The Wisdom of Whitey

As results season kicks off, one of its headier joys, to which we return like an epicure imbibing deeply of a rare, remembered vintage, is – ta-daaah! – the Wisdom of Whitey:

On linguistics: “The King Commission says I shouldn’t swear. In the supermarket business, that is very hard.”
On recognition for a job well done: “The only award we haven’t won is the nicest CEO in the retail trade.”
On international relations: “I am going to visit Vietnam, where the Vietnamese used bows and arrows against the Americans”.
On national reconciliation: “My tongue is sore from speaking so much English.”

Tatler Reporter 23/08/11

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TOPS  Where everybody knows your name

SPAR offshoot TOPS has once again availed itself of the opportunity of partying with some of SA’s most convivial people in its headline sponsorship of The TOPS Soweto Wine Festival, 1–3 Sept, get your booty down there. And while we’re talking TOPS and good times, nice one Mike down at our local TOPS for your gemütlich selection of German weissbiers.

Bizcommunity 16/08/11

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Pick n Pay  Oh, for Pete’s sake

Cosatu in the Western Cape has called upon Helen Zille to sell her Pick n Pay shares as a sign that she unequivocally does not support, nor will she profit from, the possible retrenchment of 3,000 workers at some indeterminate date in the future. They have also asked Whitey Basson to cancel his annual trip to Oktoberfest in order to clarify for once and for all his position on World War 2.

Tatler Reporter 18/08/11

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On the telly  Hooroo mate! (transl. Cheers china!)

Tonight marks the season finale of Master Chef Australia, which has kept us enraptured these how many weeks through a combination of interpersonal drama, colourful cravats and interesting cuisine, as well, of course, as the immeasurable pleasure of seeing Australians being defeated in competition almost every evening of the week.

Tatler Reporter 25/08/11

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