Woolworths: Fifteen sub-Saharan stores planned

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Woolworths aimed to open 15 stores in sub-Saharan Africa, including Kenya, Mauritius and Namibia, in the next two to three years, the head of international operations, Paula Disberry, said yesterday. Speaking at a Reuters Africa Investment Summit in Johannesburg, she said expansion into the fast-growing continent could be faster if there were more shopping malls. South Africa’s second-biggest retailer by market value has 65 African stores in 11 countries outside South Africa. “The biggest challenge is finding good shopping malls. I’d love to have 650 stores rather than 65 stores but the locations don’t exist; that’s our biggest inhibitor,” she said. “Even in developed markets like Kenya, for example, formal retail is only 40 percent of the retail marketplace.” Disberry said Woolworths was still committed to growing in sub-Saharan Africa after pulling the plug on its Nigerian business last year and announcing a $2 billion (R20bn) Australian acquisition this week. The shares rose 1.99 percent to close at R69.25 yesterday. – Reuters

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