Choppies shares begin trading again after a 20 month suspension

Trading of the shares of Botswana’s largest supermarket chain, Choppies, have resumed on the Botswana Stock Exchange after a 20 month suspension for failing to publish its financial results. Prior to the suspension, the share price had fallen by 60% as investors fled.

Choppies has now published financial results up to the end of 2019. For the financial year ended June 2019, annual revenues fell by 10.9% from P10.79bn ($950m) to P9.62bn ($840m). For the six months to December 2019, group revenues fell by 17.5% from P3.60bn ($320m to P2.97bn ($260m). The fall was partly attributable to weakening currency in Zimbabwe against the Pula. The retailer’s gross margin actually improved slightly over the six months period, up from 22.5% to 22.9%.

It has been an extended period of turmoil for the retailer. After having been suspended himself, CEO Ram Ottapathu, who owns 19.53% of Choppies, was reinstated in September 2019. Shareholders voted to oust almost all of the former board members who had opposed him, replacing them with nominees he had proposed.

Choppies has now exited South Africa and Mozambique, and is in the process of extracting itself from Kenya and Tanzania. Ottapathu plans for the retailer to continue to operate stores in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia as well as its home market of Botswana.