Shoprite lifts first-half profit, cautious on outlook

Shoprite, Africa’s biggest grocer, posted a 13,3% rise in first-half profit as recession-hit consumers flocked to its discount stores.

Shoprite, which caters for the lower end of the retail market, said on Tuesday headline earnings per share rose to 208 cents in the six months to end-December and gave a cautious outlook for the rest of the year.

The Cape Town-based company said sales rose 11,9% to R33,1-billion, with its grocer unit affected by a drop in food inflation while its furniture unit booked more than 11% sales growth.

Retailers in Africa’s biggest economy are back in favour as the economy crawls out of a recession and lower interest rates bolster consumer buying power, but the outlook for the rest of the year is dicey due to high debt levels and job losses.

Shoprite said it expected “little change” in market conditions for the rest of the fiscal year as a rise in job losses offset lower food prices.

South Africa’s retail sales fell by a less-than-expected 3,7% year-on-year in December, the latest data shows, reflecting still weak consumer demand. — Reuters

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