Food retailing is a big business all over the world, especially in Botswana. Have you ever wondered who the top food retail businesses in Botswana were?
You probably buy your groceries from one of the supermarket chains in Botswana. But not everyone is aware of some things about these business giants. Such as what they offer and even their history.
What is a Food Retail Business?
A food retail store is a place where fresh, canned, and preserved foods are sold. It may specialize in specific products, such as dairy products, fish and seafood, fruit and vegetables, or have an all-inclusive selection of various food items. Online shopping may or may not be available. Grocery stores are food retail stores that offer items other than food (such as household items). Convenience stores, which sell to customers on the go, also qualify as retail food markets.
1. Choppies Group
Picture credit: CGTN Africa
Business Type: Listed Company
Number of Stores: 122 stores
Choppies is a supermarket chain that was established in Lobatse, Botswana, in 1986. In 1993 it expanded to Gaborone and surrounding areas. The expansion continued to other regions of Botswana with a greater population of people.
In 2008, Choppies entered the South African market with their first store in Zeerust. While the brand grew its presence in the Northwest, it made an unexpected acquisition of some of Spar’s outlets in Zimbabwe, in 2013.
Choppies continued to grow in South African in 2014 with a good number of store launches in the region. Its expansion led to the setting up of its first distribution center in Rustenburg.
This significant move has given the group the capacity to supply to all their stores within that 500 km radius.
In the same year, Choppies made waves in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) space in Southern Africa. Choppies opened another distribution center in Zimbabwe.
This center had a significant impact on the brand’s growth plans. The fast pace expansion was a turbulent period and put a strain on their supply chain. This center helped the group keep its promise to consumers.
Choppies seems to be on a mission to keep growing to build a solid retail network in Africa. Some observers give Walmart (trading as Massmart in Africa) the credit for the spirited growth exercise by Choppies.
Now with its sights on East Africa and taking steps towards Tanzania and Kenya, Choppies has announced itself as an African giant. With all these growth plans, it has also established itself as Botswana’s retail behemoth.
Choppies has the biggest retail footprint in Botswana with 122 retail outlets.
2. Spar Botswana
Picture: Spar International Netherlands
Business Type: Privately held
Number of Stores: 35 stores
Founded in 1932 in Zegwaart by Adriaan van Well, Spar was originally motioned the motto of the group, DE SPAR. The acronym read D ear, E endrachtig, S amen, works P rofiteren, A llen R hedgehog moderate. As part of their international brand strategy, the organization chose to shorten the name to SPAR.
In just five years, SPAR-Nederland was joined by thirteen (13) wholesalers and 2,200 retailers. This also caught the attention of the international supermarkets and led to the founding of SPAR International in addition to SPAR Nederland.
They are both housed in the head office in Amsterdam. SPAR has more than 13, 500 stores in 48 countries, with operations on 4 continents, and a pooled turnover of €39.8 billion (2020).
SPAR is an international retail chain of supermarkets that maintains a partnership (close cooperation) between independently owned and operated retailers. SPAR is the world’s leading voluntary food retail chain and one of the larger supermarket chains in the world.
As it continues to grow, it comes as no surprise that it is one of the largest retailers in Southern Africa.
The first SPAR Botswana store was established to exclusively serve the mining community of Orapa. The first public store was opened in Francistown in 1982.
With a clear public interest in the brand, Spar Botswana opened another branch in Gaborone in 1985. The demand and opportunity led to a second Gaborone branch in 1987.
Currently, Spar has grown to 35 stores country-wide and is the second-largest retail store in Botswana.
Picture: Shoprite Daveyton South Africa (Credit : REUTERS)
Originated: South Africa
Business Type: Publicly listed
Number of Stores: 11 stores
The Shoprite Group, Christo Wiese’s brainchild, entered the Botswana market in 1998 through their first store. Even though Shoprite only has 11 stores countrywide, they are a prime example of choosing the right location.
Its core business is in food retailing, furniture, pharmaceutical goods, hospitality, ticketing, and digital commerce, financial and cellular services. The retail giant employs more than 142,000 people across Africa.
As a group, Shoprite is Africa’s leading fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) retailer. In their 2021 revenue review, the Shoprite group shows revenue of R 168 billion.
Even as a leader, the challenge is that most of its revenue comes from the South African market. Its biggest revenue contributors being Shoprite Usave and Checkers and Checkers Hyper.
Investors have in the past expressed their lack of diversification and Shoprite seems to have taken steps in the right direction.
The Shoprite Group of Companies, a South African supermarket chain, was started in 1979 by the purchase of a chain of eight Cape-based supermarkets for R 1 million.
The Group opened its first branch outside the Western Cape in Hartswater in the Northern Cape in 1983. A year later, Shoprite’s growth was accelerated by buying six food stores from Ackermans. Shoprite had now set its sights on the African continent.
In 1986, listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange for the first time, and raised a growth war chest amounting to R 29 million.
In 1990, Shoprite opened its first store in Namibia. In 1991, it acquired the national Checkers chain of supermarkets. In 1997, Shoprite made strides in acquiring the big OK Bazaars Group.
It further entered the new markets in Zimbabwe, Uganda Malawi, Madagascar, Lesotho, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Egypt. The Shoprite group showed its global ambitions in 2004 when it started trading as a wholesale in India.
However, its African plans seem to be still growing. Shoprite made an announcement in 2007 to invest $ 80 Million enter the Democratic Republic of the Congo market.
4. Sefalana Group
Picture: Sefalana Gaborone
Business Type: Publicly listed
Number of Stores: 26 stores
Sefalana was formed in 1974 to purchase the Botswana operations under Bechmalt holdings. The Sefalana group has a peculiar diversification portfolio from its FMCG business. The group also holds investments in MAN, TATA, and Honda.
When Sefalana group did business with Bechmalt holdings more than 40 years ago, it added 6 wholesale stores and a maize mill to their portfolio. Today, they reliably manufacture nutritious cereal meals, UHT milk, soaps, and detergents.
One key milestone in its history is being the first company to be listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange in 1975. Even with this status, its operation was still headquartered in South Africa until 1989, when it move to Botswana.
This move led to the merger with Metro, a giant in the local market at the time, in 1994 to form MetSef. Before Sefalana took off beyond its borders, a number of mergers and purchases were done.
This process included Heinz Botswana, MF Holdings, and Metsef in 2006. During this time, Sefalana strengthened its local distribution network and in-house production.
Other transactions, such as the Zambia property acquisition in 2009, showed that the group had ambitions to invest in Africa. In 2013 Sefalana group opened its first store outside Botswana in Namibia.
Sefalana further acquired the largest retail cash and carry in Lesotho in 2016. By 2019 Sefalana has entered the South African market which fueled the group’s regional plans.
In April 2020, the group acquired a 40% share in an Australian supermarket chain, Season Group, worth P 70 million. This move made the Sefalana Group an intercontinental player in FMCG.
This decision behind the move was a hedge from the SACU (South African Customs Union) region and to limit its foreign exchange exposure.
The evolution of the Sefalana over the past 46 has seen growth from just 6 stores in Botswana to a growing of 74 stores across 3 countries. The group has a team of 3 400 people. There is a great expectation for its expansion on the African continent.
Business Type: Publically held
Number of Stores: 30 stores
Saverite started in 2008 and is a new player in the retail game. This is the dark horse on this list because it is a subsidiary of Massmart.
Massmart was founded in 1990, began with acquiring six Makro stores. It was later listed on the JSE Limited in July 2000.
Since its establishment, Massmart has grown organically and by making acquisitions. Walmart bought a 52.4% stake in Massmart in December 2016, making it a majority shareholder.
Today, Walmart employs over 2 million people around the world and 1.6 million in the United States alone. This also positions Walmart as the biggest employer in the United States.
Walmart has entered the African market with clear intentions to be the biggest player in the Africa FCMG market. Massmart sent a shockwave to the industry when it acquired many giant wholesale and retail chains. These include household names such as Game, Makro, Buildermart, Jumbo, and others in the region.
Massmart has since grown in the Southern African region. They operate in South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, and Botswana through a number of its brands including Saverite.
The Massmart muscle of over 70 wholesalers in southern Africa has made it easy for Saverite to grow exponentially in such a short space of time. In just 5 years since its inception, Saverite was voted in the top 10 of the Sunday Times Top Brands awards in 2013.
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