The Johannesburg Stock Exchange. File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko

JOHANNESBURG - South African retail giant Massmart said on Thursday its total sales for the 53 weeks to 31 December 2017 increased by 2.7 percent to R93.7 billion compared with the 52 weeks in 2016.

Group operating profit during the year, excluding foreign exchange movements and interest, increased by 4.8 percent to R2.8 billion while headline earnings per share rose 14.6 percent to 694.1 cents.

Massmart is Africa’s second largest retail group after Shoprite Holdings and comprises four divisions operating in 423 stores, across 13 sub-Saharan countries. It owns local brands such as Game, Makro and Builder's Warehouse.

The company declared a  gross final cash dividend of 271.0 cents per share for the year, up from 224.8 cents in 2016.

"Notwithstanding the group’s soft sales trends subsequent to December 2017, we are hopeful however that the 2018 sales environment will be better than 2017," it said.

Whilst South Africa’s new political leadership and direction under President Cyril Ramaphosa would, in the short- to medium-term, undoubtedly improve many economic factors, structural, policy and public sector impediments remained long-term challenges, Massmart said.

"This is undoubtedly South Africa’s best shot in recent memory at reinvigorating our own social, economic and political progress and prowess, and restoring our place as a key actor on the African continent," it added.

- African News Agency (ANA)