South African retail group Massmart said on Thursday its headline earnings fell 31.7 percent to R901.2 million in the 52 weeks to December 30. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG - South African retail group Massmart said on Thursday its headline earnings fell 31.7 percent to R901.2 million in the 52 weeks to December 30.

Massmart, which owns local brands such as Game, Makro, Builder’s Warehouse and CBW, said the combination of low sales growth and higher expense growth caused group trading profit excluding foreign exchange movements, interest and restructure costs to decline by 16.8 percent to R2.1 billion.

It said this was against the back-drop of a difficult economic environment, characterised by low economic and wage growth as well as constrained consumer confidence. 

"Notwithstanding the difficult environment Massmart maintained strong market share across durable goods categories including; small and large domestic appliances, hi-tech and most DIY (do it yourself) and hardware categories," it said.

Total sales from the group’s South African stores – which generate 91.3 percent of sales - grew by 2.9 percent compared with 1.5 percent for comparable store sales.  Total sales from stores outside South Africa grew by 3.9 percent in constant currencies.

The company was focused on those factors within its control, given a challenging operating environment.

- African News Agency (ANA)