By ‘Fisayo Soyombo
VENTURES AFRICA — Who would have thought, in 1979, when an unknown, anonymous company purchased eight supermarkets in Cape Town for 1,000,000 Rand, that one of Africa’s greatest companies of all times had been born?
From its humble beginnings, The Shoprite Group of Companies, a South Africa-based fast food and retail group, now runs in 16 African countries and the Indian Ocean Islands, operating more than 1,246 corporate outlets and 274 franchise outlets.
Granted its beginning has been famously described as “humble,” Shoprite got it right almost as soon as the acquisition of the companies was sealed, and it would go on to spend the next three decades plotting various acquisitions and innovative expansion strategies that have earned it its current billion standing.
After opening its outlet in Namibia in 1990, Shoprite increased its outlets in quadruple, with the acquisition of Grand Bazaars, just within four years of its listing on the JSE.
In 1991, its growth nearly sextupled, after it acquired the national Checkers chain of supermarkets. In a rise that could easily have been mistaken as meteoric, Shoprite trebled in size to 241 outlets with a staff of 22,600.
In 2000, the Group opened its first supermarkets in Zimbabwe and Uganda. Another two years, it acquired the Madagascar stores of French chain, Champion. Months later, it bought three Tanzanian supermarkets from Score Supermarket and opened its first Hypermarket outside of South Africa in Mauritius.
In 2005, the Group acquired both Foodworld, with 13 stores, and South African ticket seller, Computicket, and then opened the first Shoprite Liquor Shop. It was the same year it opened its first Nigerian store, in the urbane Lagos business district of Victoria Island,
In 2008 the Shoprite Group was added to the JSE Top-40 Index of blue-chips; and in March 2011, it entered into an agreement with Metcash Trading Africa (Pty) Ltd to acquire the franchise division of Metcash, which was then sold to Shoprite Checkers.
The Metcash franchise division included franchise arrangements with franchisees operating retail stores under registered trademark names such as Friendly, Seven Eleven and Price Club Discount Supermarket.
Headquartered in Brackenfell, South Africa, The Shoprite Group of Companies has been widely acknowledged as one of the continent’s biggest performers. In the Markinor Top Brands Survey of 2011, the Shoprite brand was adjudged the No 1 Supermarket, a position it was claiming for the fifth year running. In the Top Retail Brands Section of the same survey, it claimed 1st place in all five grocery categories. The Survey further identified Shoprite as the 6th overall favourite brand, and the 3rd most valued brand in terms of community upliftment in South Africa.
Thirty-three years on, Shoprite’s unfettered expansion continues, with its engagement in the retail sale of furniture, appliances, home entertainment products, and floor coverings; wine, beer and spirits; pharmaceutical products and surgical equipment; fresh and non-perishable food items, including fruits, vegetables, and meat; clothing and cosmetics; and general merchandise, which include small appliances, pet accessories, garden and pool care, outdoor gear, home improvement, home wares, baby products, toys, and stationery; and lots of other ventures on a seemingly endless list.