WOOLWORTHS had bought the 49 percent remaining stake in its Zambian business, the food and clothing retailer said yesterday. The purchase of the outstanding shares would give the company full ownership of four stores. The retailer also plans to open three stores in the country in the next two years, in Lusaka, Kitwe and Solwezi. Woolworths said this was part of its commitment to investing in and growing its African business. It believed that growing African markets would drive future profitability and deliver on its strategy to be a leading southern hemisphere retailer. “Our acquisition in our Zambian business… will enable us to ensure we deliver the same brand experience to all our customers,” group director for retail operations Paula Disberry said. Woolworths has traded in various African countries for 20 years. It has 61 corporate stores in 11 countries outside of South Africa, including Botswana, Namibia, Kenya, Mauritius and Ghana. The shares declined 1.24 percent to close at R78.75 on the JSE yesterday. – Nompumelelo Magwaza