THE SPAR Southern Africa store network increased to 2 308 stores in the last financial year. Leon Nicholas African News Agency (ANA)
JOHANNESBURG - The SPAR Group yesterday said that it lifted on the performance of its liquor division Tops during six months to end March, reporting double-digit growth of 19.3 percent in wholesale sales to R4billion.

The division outperformed retail sales, which recorded a 14percent increase to R6.6bn on what the group said was strong marketing initiatives and continued brand investment that attracted the consumers. Spar said Tops increased its store network by adding 25 stores on a net basis to 799 stores, while 42 stores were revamped.

The group said its total turnover increased only 8.6 percent to R54.3bn from R50bn last year.

Operating profit increased by 5.1percent to R1.3bn, while headline earnings per share declined by 3.4 percent to 523.6cents a share.

The group declared an interim dividend of 284c, which was up by 5.2percent compared to last year’s 270c.

Its Spar Southern Africa division bumped up its turnover 7.7percent to R37.3bn, including the performance of the S Buys pharmaceutical business, with food inflation of 1.9percent.

“Excluding S Buys, Spar Southern Africa increased turnover by 7.6percent to R36.8bn, reflecting the continued tough retail market, which remains impacted by weak consumer spend and low levels of inflation,” the group said.

The Spar Southern Africa store network increased to 2308 stores during the period, up from 2236 stores compared to last year, with new stores opened across all brands.

“The group completed 175 store upgrades, compared to 131 upgrades in the comparable period,” Spar said.

Spar currently has operations in Southern Africa, Switzerland and Ireland.

The BWG Group, Spar Ireland, delivered solid euro-denominated results, with all retail brands continuing to report good turnover growth. The group said the overall performance was positively impacted by the acquisition of the Four Aces wholesale business and Corrib Foods during the previous year. Spar Ireland’s retail network increased to 1381 stores, up from 1371 stores.

In Switzerland the group said sales continued to be negatively impacted by low economic growth in the market. Spar Switzerland reported a decline in local currency measured turnover of 1.8percent. “This result continued to be influenced by the strategic decision to exit certain unprofitable corporate retail stores,” the group said.

Spar opened 12 new stores in Switzerland for a total of 327 stores in the country.

Spar shares rose 0.1percent on the JSE yesterday to close at R198.