“Who?” you clamour, flapping frantically through the business pages, and panic-dialing your local provider of retail intelligence. Calm yourselves. Alle are Ethiopia’s state-owned retailer, and Ethiopia is the next – perhaps the first, come to think of it – African Tiger. Which would be a lion, or perhaps a leopard. Anyway, they have 90million people and an emerging middle class who are approaching the $750 per capita income threshold where retail begins to take off. And they have a growing infrastructure of malls, too, like the irresistibly names Zefmesh Grand Mall, Ethiopia’s biggest, in Addis Ababa. Thing is, and it’s a biggy, Ethiopia’s government are not all that keen on the whole free enterprise thing, hence the state retailer approach. Alle has been structured as a private wholesale cash & carry, under the guidance of consultants AT Kearney, and for the forseeable future will be operating in an environment breathtakingly free of competition. They are however keen to attract relevant industry talent, if you have a moment to spare.
Comment: The drive to protect a fragile new economy is understandable and even commendable. But luminaries such as the IMF are concerned that Ethiopia’s massive spending on infrastructure, if unsupported by foreign investment, could sink their hopes for development.