Trade Tatler
“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

TATLER ARCHIVE

THIS ISSUE:     13 Jul - 19 Jul

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RETAILERS AND WHOLESALERS

Pick n Pay  Here be acronyms

Pick n Pay is migrating its data from three separate legacy systems to Amazon Web Services (AWS), which in its own words offers a broad set of global compute, storage, database, analytics, application, and deployment services that help organisations move faster, lower IT costs, and scale applications. The Big Blue is reportedly 80% along the way (which in actual migration is where the wildebeest teeter nervously on the crocodile-lined shores of the Mara River) and is pushing for 100% by the end of the year, once all the old platforms – chief among them SAP’s BW for HANA – have been dismantled. The thinking? All three existing platforms have been running into constraints, Pick n Pay is wanting to future-ready itself in an age of big data and machine learning, and the cloud solution provided by Amazon enables the business to get the most of the hardware it currently has. From a business perspective, says Andrew Mayes, Pick n Pay’s GM for Business Intelligence and Data Science, “Towards the backend of last year we were faced with a number of challenges that we arguably see as opportunities. They entailed quite a few things from [a] business perspective that we simply could not do in that previous environment.”
Comment: Excellent use of the word backend, that IT guy.

Tatler Reporter 13/07/18

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Shoprite  Uganda eat that?

East Africa is not for cissies, nor for the incautious, facts which Shoprite appears to be keeping in mind as it executes its steady but circumspect expansion in that promising geography. Take Uganda, for e.g., where the business set up shop in 2000, but as of six months ago had only two stores. Now as Kenyan rival Nakumatt battles liquidity problems, Shoprite has taken over three of its stores, in a retail arena also abandoned by that other failed Kenyan business Uchumi. And while no one is denying the challenges of serving the Ugandan market, this modest expansion comes at a fortuitous time, with the shilling depreciating against the dollar, and the Ugandan economy looking set for lift off. Shoprite also has plans to enter Kenya before the end of the ’18.
Comment: Excellent work from the Big Red One, a model for any retailer wishing to business in the Motherland, provided that retailer has deep pockets and good intel on what Shoprite is actually up to.

All Africa 10/07/18

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Woolworths  Corn you believe it?

Providing an intriguing glimpse into the global food supply chain this week, Woolies is withdrawing a range of frozen rice products (Frozen rice – you sure of this? Ed.) on concerns of listeriosis. The rice, you see, is mixed in with sweetcorn procured from the Greenyard factory in – any guesses? – Hungary, which has been implicated in a listeriosis outbreak in Europe. While Woolies itself has found no proof of the bacterium in the product, better safe than sorry, as sick punters in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and the UK could tell you. In more uplifting Woolies news, the Dapper One is partnering with UNICEF in assisting in a nutrition pilot which seeks to feed around 50,000 pupils over the next three years in 50 disadvantaged primary schools in Gauteng that participate in the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP). The initiative aims to improve the capacity of about 100 volunteer food handlers, who are local community members, to prepare balanced school meals for children under safe and hygienic conditions. Woolies has committed R4m over the next three years to the project.
Comment: Can’t we just use our own mealies? Just a thought.

Business Day 10/07/18

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MANUFACTURERS AND SERVICE PROVIDERS

Pioneer  Blazing a trail

Pioneer CEO Tertius Carstens was on CNN last week, telling Marketplace’s Eleni Giokos all about the business, from its promising roots to its yet more promising future. A good time to catch ourselves up, we thought. Basically, then, the business started back in 1997 – and not earlier, as you might imagine with Pioneer being such an established presence – with the merger of Bokomo and Sasko. This was followed by a period of aggressive, acquisitive growth, which saw such iconic brands as Ceres and Marmite being added to the already respectable stable. This journey has been accompanied by a fair degree of innovation – such as the addition of protein to Weetbix, keeping a heritage brand up to speed with modern trends in functional foods. Next up: the world itself. Pioneer derives 15% of its revenue from global sales, predominantly from cereals in the UK. The plan is to grow organically in a sometimes difficult climate at home, says Mr C., and incrementally beyond our borders.
Comment: A great South African business, taking care of business in tough times.

Tatler Reporter 16/07/18

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Oceana   Water, water everywhere

It’s no secret that Oceana makes its living from fish, those often delicious denizens of the deep. Now, it seems they’re going after the very water the little blighters swim in! You read that right: rattled by the recent prolonged drought in the Western Cape, Oceana are establishing desalination plants at two of their factories on the West Coast, in an attempt to establish water security for the business in an often arid region. This comes at no small cost: R35million, to be precise, although that will provide capacity for 1.4million litres of potable water every day – more, surely, than the 2,000-strong workforce could hope to drink. But the alternative, in a region that might run out of water, is relocation, and that is unpalatable to Oceana, which values the fishing community from which it emerged.
Comment: A changing climate will inevitably force these decisions and these investments upon businesses. Those businesses which look clear eyed to a challenging future are the ones which will survive.

Business Day 16/07/18

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Sugar  A bitter harvest

Last year, and we can’t believe we missed this, sorry for that, the Ministry of Finance failed to gazette changes in the sugar tariff that are triggered by changes in the international price of sugar. This led to the tariff on imports to be kept at zero for months, allowing importers to stockpile sugar on our shores and undercut our own producers. The consequence of this inexcusable blunder? A major industry on the brink of collapse with both small and large sugar-cane growers and sugar producers crushed under a mountain of imports, the South African Treasury losing billions of rands in revenues and the terrible cost to workers and their families dependent on his industry. Government has promised that it will sort the issue of tariffs out “by July”.
Comment: In this context, the sugar tax, which seems from a health perspective to be a good thing, might be a bridge too far for the industry.

Bizcommunity 16/07/18

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TRADE ENVIRONMENT

Economy  Omens and portents

The cold winds are blowing across the vlakte, and we’re not talking literally here, although it is pretty nippy. No: this week’s economic news brings some disturbing portents. For example, data from BankservAfrica, which published an index of banking transactions, suggests we may have entered a recession in the second quarter, after the worst contraction in nine years in the first. This despite growth of +1.5% in the manufacturing sector in May, a figure which surprised economists on the upside. And according to someone close to the national treasury, the fiscus – i.e. the stack of cash we use to pay for stuff – is perilously close to pap, and we may well be heading cap in hand to the austere halls of the International Monetary Fund. Ask Greece how that goes. SA’s debt-to-GDP ratio reached an all-time high of over 53% at the end of ‘17, compared with its record low of 27.8% in ‘08. And don’t get us started on petrol and VAT. The CPI stats however were encouraging, if that’s the word, coming in at 4.6% for June, with food and beverages up 3.1%.
Comment: Perhaps it’s time to consider our own austerity measures – starting with salaries at the upper echelons of government and the private sector – before they’re imposed on us.

Business Day 13/07/18, Business Times 15/07/18

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IN BRIEF

Unilever  For everything else there’s cellphones

We were banging on about East Africa just a few inches to the north; here’s more. In Kenya, Unilever and Mastercard are dealing with the age-old problem of informal trader’s lacking access to credit with which to buy Unilever product. The two have created a safe digital platform for traders to access and use low-risk micro-credit, which is underwritten by a local bank, with the traders’ own purchase history as collateral. Genius.

Fortune 14/07/18

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Stokvels  Because I’m appy…

A new app, billed as SA’s lowest-cost investment platform, allows stokvels to invest their hard-earned and indeed hard-saved rands on the somewhat shakier investment platform that is the JSE. Interestingly, it’s called Franc, not Rand, Rubel, Renminbi, or Real, but there you go. Stokvel savings are one of the pillars of our economy, and it’s nice to see new ways for them to grow.

The Sunday Times 11/07/18

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International Retailers  A Lidl less conversation, a Lidl more action

Lidl’s disastrous rollout in the US, where it has failed in format (its stores there are bigger), location, ranging and general execution needs a dramatic course correction, and this might just have come in the form of new CEO, the Teutonically-monikered Johannes Fieber. Watch this space. Also in the USSA, as some wags are now calling it, Walmart and Amazon are now locked in a deadly private-label battle, with Walmart’s own label products, like Ol’ Roy dog food, up against Amazon’s stealth brand AmazonBasics, which looks set to go big round about now.

Tatler Reporter 16/07/18

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