SOUTH AFRICA – Botswana based retailer, Choppies Enterprises, has unveiled plans of exiting the South African market, a few years after expanding into the country.

The retailer, which has been hit by operational turbulence in recent months, said in a statement that after completing a strategic review of its business that it plans to sell its stores in South Africa.

The company, whose stock is currently suspended from trading on its primary bourse in Botswana as well as on the Johannesburg stock exchange, operates 88 stores in South Africa.

The retailer, which has stores in Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique, listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in 2015.

“The board has concluded that exiting the South African market is the appropriate strategic decision for the company,” the company said in a statement issued to shareholders.

The retailer further stated that it “has commenced a process which may result in the divestment of Choppies Supermarkets SA (Pty) Ltd in whole or in part” a move that may have a material effect on its stock price.

It also announced that Festus Mogae would be stepping down as chair and director after the company’s Annual General Meeting, due later this year.

Choppies, which operates in eight African countries, saw its shares plunge by more than 60% last September after announcing a delay to the publication of its financial statements.

The company in May announced the suspension of its chief executive Ramachandran Ottapathu, amid a forensic probe into the company’s business dealings that later revealed a number of irregularities on inventory records and bulk sales.

New recapitalisation plan in Kenya

Choppies has clinched a deal with local shareholders in Kenya to bailout the retailer and settle part of its supplier debt estimated at US$6 million (Sh600 million) as it looks to restock its stores.

Choppies says that the Export Trading Group (ETG), its local shareholder with a 25 percent stake, has come up with a recapitalisation plan that will help restock its shelves as suppliers get their cash in three tranches.

In the deal inked between Choppies and the Association of Kenya Suppliers (AKS), the retailer will release 50 percent of cash owed to creditors who sign the agreement on condition that supply is resumed.