ZIMBABWE – A wholly local entity, Spar Zimbabwe, has taken custody of the South African retailer’s brand in the country following the closure of the Spar Group’s distribution centre.
Spar Group chief executive Graham O’Connor told Reuters on Monday that the retail giant had divested from Zimbabwe’s tough economy at the end of 2015. O’Connor said the group would continue to supply Zimbabwe’s independent Spar stores from South Africa.
In January 2016, Innscor Africa, which was the Spar Group’s partner in the distribution centre and a holder of the Spar national licence, also announced its retreat from the retail business with the sale of its six stores.
Terrence Yeatman, managing director of the recently established Spar Zimbabwe, told reporters in Harare on Friday that an existing independent Spar franchise holder, Yellowcob Enterprises took over the six former Innscor stores.
Five of the stores are in Harare — Village, Bridge, Golden Stairs, Queensdale and Letombo, while one is in Mutare.
Independent retailer Darren Lanca’s family controls Yellowcob.
“Concurrently, the Spar licence for the whole of Zimbabwe was transferred to a newly formed company, called Spar Zimbabwe,” Yeatman said, adding that Yellowcob now has 10 Spar stores under its ambit, while there are now 21 independent Spar stores across the country.
“There are still 21 Spar stores owned 100 percent by independent local Zimbabwean retailers around the country. They all trade under the Spar banner under licence from the guild of Spar grocers.
The independent Spar retailers work together with Spar Zimbabwe to remain competitive in the Zimbabwean retail sector,” Yeatman said.
“For 49 years the Spar brand has been trading in this country and will continue to do so.”
Yeatman said Spar Zimbabwe intends to have more of its branded products manufactured locally following the closure of the distribution centre, which supplied mainly South African-made goods.
“At the moment our stocking is about 50:50 but we are trying to encourage local manufacturers to move into that space. You will see a whole lot more local products coming online in the next couple of months,” he said.
Yeatman said Spar Zimbabwe had already started stocking locally made baked beans.
“For the last 20 years or so we have been importing the same baked beans from South Africa but beginning this year we made the decision to switch to a local manufacturer …the beans are grown by small scale farmers and canned just outside of Harare,” he said.
“The costing is the most important part and we were able to offer competitive prices and this is evidence that with commitment and clever engineering we can produce quality products in this country.”
Yeatman said tough economic conditions had exerted pressure on independent retailers, many who were struggling to cope in a cut-throat industry dominated by big national chain stores OK Zimbabwe and regional giant Pick n Pay of South Africa.