Last week, in a momentary lapse of our otherwise reliable predictive faculties, we breezily assured South African retailers that they had nothing to fear from Choppies, unless they were heading beyond our borders, where the Botswanan outfit is making quite a play. Oops, our bad. This week, a friend tells us, they have acquired 21 stores owned by Jwayelani, once a butcher and now a convenience chain, with locations in Durban, Pietermaritzburg, Pinetown, Empangeni, Estcourt, Umzinto and Flagstaff, the heartland of independent retail in The Beloved Country. This brings to a nice, round 60 the number of stores they have in-country. Add to that the 8,000m2 fruit and veg DC they opened in Randburg, and you’re starting to look at a fairly sizeable operation. The group plans to roll out another 35 stores this year for a total of 200 by December.
Comment: With the advantage of a stable and growing economy backing them up at home, Choppies may yet prove to be the fabled Seventh Retailer of which prophets have sung.