Shoprite is the latest South African retailer to look at leaving Nigeria – clothing firm Mr Price announced its exit in June, and Woolworths in 2014. It said it was looking at selling all “or a majority stake” of its operations in Africa’s most-populous country.
Shoprite’s decision comes at a time when Nigeria’s economy is struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Economists from the World Bank have warned that the country could be on the brink of its worst recession since the 1980s because of “the collapse in oil prices coupled with the Covid-19 pandemic”.
Shoprite said lockdown restrictions because of coronavirus had affected its operations in 14 African countries, with sales declining by 1.4% in those markets. Its South African operations on the other hand witnessed “significant growth”.
The retailer has also been battling currency-induced inflation surges – especially in Nigeria, where it has been hit hardest. Shoprite employs at least 2,000 people in Nigeria.
The retailer’s stores in the capital, Abuja, and the commercial hub, Lagos, became a flashpoint for outrage in 2019, following violent attacks in South Africa on other migrants from elsewhere in the continent.
The National Association of Nigerian Students (Nans) – which represents university students at campuses across the country – picketed branches of Shoprite and South African telecoms giant MTN, turning away staff and customers. The student body had demanded that all South African-owned businesses leave the West African state.
Shoprite’s failure in Nigeria may not be surprising for many as its outlets are seem to have been more popular for taking pictures than actual shopping.
Though it is regarded as a working-class supermarket in South Africa, many in the Country consider it as catering to the upper classes who in turn have been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Source: BBC News