Johannesburg - Three JSE-listed retailers that have stores in Westgate Mall, Nairobi, which was the site of a deadly attack on civilians last month, have lost out on operating time but Woolworths insists this is unlikely to affect its plans to expand into Kenya and the rest of the region.
Fashion retailer Mr Price, Woolworths and Truworths’ Identity were all operating in the mall at the time of the attack. Woolworths said the store was open during the shooting and that some workers had not fully recovered emotionally.
“All our employees are safe but some are receiving trauma counselling,” it said.
The retailer said it did not expect the event to affect its expansion into Kenya or east Africa but that it reviewed its investment risk in all its markets, including Africa, on an ongoing basis. “We are following developments very closely with our partners in Kenya.”
Mr Price operates its Mr Price Home store in Westgate Mall through a franchise agreement with Kenyan clothing retailer Deacons Kenya.
“Our staff helped a member of the public who was shot in the leg elsewhere in the centre and the person was discharged from hospital the next day,” Mr Price said.
“We are relieved that no staff member or customer was injured in this tragedy.”
African growth rates have been seen as an attractive element for local and international companies but there is an element of risk that was highlighted by the terror attack in one of Africa’s fastest-growing countries.
Kenya has a population of 43.18 million and the World Bank predictes the economy will grow 5 percent this year.
Companies such as Shoprite, Pick n Pay and Steinhoff have said they would be pursuing rapid African expansion in future as local sales slowed.
Shoprite reported that most of its growth had stemmed from its operations outside South Africa, which increased sales 29.7 percent in the 12 months to June, although much of that growth was attributed to a weak rand.
Woolworths operates 62 stores in countries outside of South Africa.
Deacons Kenya operated all three stores through a franchise deal with the local companies.
Woolworths entered into a joint venture with Deacons Kenya in 2012 but this was ended this year.
The move towards the joint venture and away from the previous fully franchised model was so the local high-end retailer could retain better control of its brand.
Woolworths first entered the country 10 years ago. - Business Report