School of Retail
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THIS ISSUE: 13 Apr - 20 Apr
So those Pick n Pay results, then: turnover up 7% to R77.5bn, with after tax profit up 17% to R1.2bn. The former they attribute to "disruption to trade" due to refurbs on 62 stores and the closure of 12 underperformers, while the latter, they say, is a result of greater operating efficiency, cost discipline, a more centralised supply chain and higher productivity in stores, all of which have been critical to its slow and steady recovery. A nice clutch of new stores: 68 new Pick n Pay company-owned stores and 25 new Boxer stores, across all formats, while on the franchise front the business now has 111 Express stores, having doubled the haul in two years. All this, however, as the competition makes its own adjustments with reality – Woolies by experimenting with price cuts, SPAR by going offshore, Checkers by focusing on fresh. Comment: Perhaps getting back to basics is the magic formula?
Ti Analyst 19/04/17
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Mum’s the Word if you put Brasher on the spot to give you the lowdown on Boxer’s financial performance, as Pick n Pay does not segment the Boxer numbers. They did, however, allude to the importance of Boxer’s increasing importance to the Pick n Pay stable, reporting strong turnover growth as a result of price investment…something every South African welcomes with open arms. Strong gross profit performance was attributed to greater participation of its butchery, fresh produce and value-added convenience categories. Celebrating the 40th milestone with a total of 232 stores is something to be proud of. 25 new Boxer stores were opened over the past year, delivering on the Group’s promise to open new stores in communities which it had previously not served. Refurbishments are a plenty, bringing the total New Generation Boxer stores to 41. Comment: More stores serving more communities, keep going Boxer.
Tatler Reporter 20/04/17
Well Prost and Nasdrovya to Shoprite, who, we are told, are marching into Eastern Europe like that other Red Army before them, in order to hedge against a possible decline in sales in recently-downgraded SA. According to CEO Peter Engelbrecht (too soon to name him “Ou Piet”? Probably) they will be targeting former Iron Curtain states which have either “low competition or high economic growth” or presumably both where such are to be found. And competition in the Eastern Bloc is thick on the ground: Tesco, Carrefour, Lidl and Aldi, to name just a few of the foreign businesses. The idea, says (oh what the hell?) Ou Piet, is not to go in guns blazing but to go slow. “We are not going to over commit ourselves to learn if the market accepts us, says O.P., with just a hint of the phlegm and pragmatism of the previous CEO. Comment: We still can’t believe that it is now possible to write a Shoprite piece without any reference whatsoever to Whitey Basson.
The Guardian (Nigeria) 14/04/17
Long the darling of the South African pharmaceutical industry, and frequently written about in approving tones in these pages, within the limits of journalistic objectivity, obviously, Aspen Pharmaceuticals has gone and done it, haven’t they? Concealed from shareholders the €5.2m fine slapped on them by the Italian competition authorities, the melodically named L'Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato, for price gouging. A fact they did not reveal to shareholders, on the grounds that it wasn’t a significant amount. Now the business is facing investigation from the British and European authorities for dramatically increasing the prices on cancer and leukemia-fighting drugs, some of which it acquired from GlaxoSmithKline. In Spain, for example, the business is accused of threatening to stop selling certain cancer treatments unless the health minister agreed to price rises of up to 4,000%. There is also an email trail which appears to show staff planning to destroy stockpiles of the drug. Comment: If this is true, it’s a shame in the biblical sense of the word – and a destruction of the reputation Aspen has built up over the years as a decent and responsible provider in the healthcare space.
The Independent 15/04/17
So in the ongoing pile-up that is the ABiNbEvSaBMiLLer (we’ve got that combo of capital letters and dispensed-with punctuation right, have we? Thought so.) merger, Distell has now been sold to the likeable old codgers and twinkly-eyed grannies of the Public Investment Corporation in which many of their nest eggs are cradled. This to satisfy conditions placed on the deal by the competition authorities, who also insisted that the business be sold to a substantially black-owned concern. Distell, as you know, is a producer, marketer and distributor of wines, spirits, ciders and ready-to-drink beverages, with brands which include Nederburg, Durbanville Hills, Two Oceans, Klipdrift, Richelieu and Bains. For the new tera-brewer to own it would apparently have flown in the face of a fairly-divided market and equitable competition. Comment: Size isn’t everything boys. Hasn’t anyone ever mentioned that to you?
Fin 24 12/04/17
Another month, another drop in retail trade sales, with the (metaphorically) chill winds of February blowing in a 1.7% decline year-on-year after January’s drop of 2.3%. Some sectors fared better than others, naturally: the clothing boys (and of course girls) saw a decline of 7.6%, while our own great sector grew sales 5.8%. Not much to say, really, other than poor economic growth, high unemployment and the whole shooting party of unsatisfactory fundamentals has come at last to this, and where once retail gave the economy a much-needed shot in the arm, there’s only so much one can do. In other news, a report by EY (Ernst and Young, presumably) point to a dismal near-future for the industry as the downgrade sparks a possible rise in interest rates and currency depreciation, which will strain consumer’s disposable income and send us scrabbling harder after every cent. On the upside, some interesting figures from the report: grocery retailers enjoy a massive 66% share in the retail sector’s profits, followed by speciality with 18% and clothing at 16%. On the ROI front, a little leaner, bringing home only 22.3%, despite having the majority of spend at 62%. Comment: Here’s a punt for a government department doing its job: when you get a chance, head on over to StatsSA whose website is both readable and informative.
Rubbing salt in the wounds this week is Dangote Flour Mills of Nigeria, which has made a miraculous recovery and reported a R445m profit for the 15 months through December 2016. This was the business, you will recall, which after four straight years of losses caused Tiger Brands to scale back its exposure in Africa’s biggest economy and scuppered the fortunes of CEO Peter Matlare. Dangote is back safely in the hands of its founder and Nigeria’s richest man, Aliko Dangote.
Business Day 18/04/17
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