Pick n Pay chairman Gareth Ackerman. PHOTO: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - Retailer Pick n Pay said on Friday its diluted headline earnings per share were up 26.1 percent during the 53 weeks to March 3 and declared a final dividend of 192 cents per share. 

The company also said Aboubakar Jakoet would be retiring as group chief finance officer of the Pick n Pay but had agreed to remain in the post until a successor was appointed.

Pick n Pay said its South Africa performance mitigated some operating challenges experienced outside its borders, with earnings from the Rest of Africa division down 16.2 percent year-on-year, reflecting difficult economic conditions in Zambia and the once-off impact of currency devaluation in Zimbabwe.

It said the group had maintained its focus on the objectives set out in its long-term plan of building a leaner and more cost-effective business.

Successful execution of this strategy had enabled it to report market-leading turnover growth of 7.1 percent, and like-for-like turnover growth of 4.8 percent, the company said.

The core South Africa division, comprising Pick n Pay and Boxer, delivered turnover growth of 7.4 percent. The group’s volume growth of 5.1 percent represented its strongest underlying trading performance for many years.

"Over the past six years, a relentless focus on improving cost and operating effectiveness has enabled the group to invest in a winning customer offer through lower prices, more attractive promotions, better and more innovative products, compelling value-added services, and brighter and more modern stores – without sacrificing earnings growth," said Pick n Pay.

The group has an established presence in Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Eswatini, Zambia and Zimbabwe, although trading conditions in these countries have been challenging at times, particularly in Zambia and more recently in Zimbabwe.

"The group continues to build a stronger and more resilient business in Zambia, and remains confident of the long-term growth prospects of this business, notwithstanding a currently difficult trading environment," it said.

Pick n Pay chairman Gareth Ackerman said the company looked forward to working with the new government after South Africa's national elections on May 8 in an effort to build the economy.

"It has never been more important for business to play a supporting and advisory role in public policy," he said.

"In this, we will be working hard to increase co-operation between different departments to bring better coherence to policy decisions. These include issues such as security for retail stores during social grant pay-outs, which has reached very worrying levels. Another is tackling obesity in South Africa by working to promote healthy lifestyles."

- African News Agency (ANA)