Choppies looks to close stores in Botswana

Having exited South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique, embattled supermarket chain Choppies will now close loss-making stores in its home market of Botswana as it seeks to recover a stable financial footing. The company finally released its FY2018 results in December, showing losses had risen to BWP445.5m ($40.55m).

In Botswana, Choppies will close stores in Mmathethe and Shoshong. It has already closed a store in Mogoditshane. The closures come as CEO Ram Ottapathu, having won his boardroom battle to return to the head of Choppies, seeks to restructure the group.

Choppies shares remain suspended on the Botswana and Johannesburg stock exchanges due to its failure to publish its FY2018 audited annual financial statements. The share price had fallen by over 70% in both exchanges before trading was halted. Auditor PwC has resigned, and declined to sign off on the latest set of accounts.

According to the newly published financial results for the year ended 30th June 2018, Choppies revenues increased by 24% to BWP10.8bn ($985.4m),  and gross profit increased by 12% to BWP2bn ($180.4m).  But the cost of store acquisitions and impairment losses mean losses after taxation reached BWP445.5m ($40.55m), compared to a loss of BWP170m ($15.5m) in FY2017. The results also show that Choppies owes its suppliers BWP1.3bn  ($118.6m), up from BWP1.02bn (93.1m) the previous year.

Ottapthu may yet face a fight with the unions once Choppies releases more details about job losses. The Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) has indicated its concern at the implications of the store closures.