Shoprite ditches Zimbabwe's OK Stores deal

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – South African listed retailer Shoprite has put its Zimbabwean plans on hold, it said on Monday.

"Due to the current socio-economic and political uncertainty in Zimbabwe, Shoprite has decided not to engage in further investment opportunities in that country in the short to medium term," the retailer said in a statement.

The company said it wanted to "clarify" recent media speculation that Shoprite was pursuing the purchase of OK Zimbabwe.

Earlier this month, there was media speculation that Shoprite would pay over R167-million for OK Zimbabwe, putting it into direct competition with TM Supermarkets in which another South African retailer Pick n Pay has a stake.

However, the Zimbabwean government’s recent nationalisation of one of the country’s oldest companies Kingdom Meikles Africa has made investors wary.

Over the years, the Shoprite Group has expanded its thrust northward beyond South Africa’s borders.

It has 146 corporate and 57 franchise stores in the 16 countries it operates outside South Africa — Angola, Botswana, Ghana, India, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe (it has an operation in Bulawayo).