BOTSWANA – Shoprite Bostwana,  Subsidiary of Shoprite Holding Limited, has opened its first distribution centre in Taung, Gaborone after investing about US$1.31m (P14 million) in the facility.

The 3 700 square metre state-of-the-art facility has the capacity to handle storage across multiple temperature disciplines, contains tropical ripening rooms as well as offer value-added packing facilities.

According to the company, most of the space, about 2 700 square metre, will be occupied by Freshmark, the Shoprite Group’s fruit and vegetable procurement, buying and distribution arm.

Speaking at the official opening of the centre, Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Ms Bogolo Kenewendo said she believed that the facility would improve Shoprite’s operations in Botswana and promote local products.

Shoprite Checkers general manager, Mr Clint Jackson said they were passionate about supporting and growing local producers through procurement, providing access to their distribution network, education and logistical support.

“We believe in playing a role in economic transformation of countries we operate in through job creation, skills transfer, career development and sourcing locally,” he said.

Mr Jackson indicated that the investment also strengthens Shoprite’s ambitions of promoting the development of small and medium enterprises in Botswana.

He further highlighted that the retailer would commit to contract farming sourcing locally and further ensure that the designing and the packaging of the ‘Made in Botswana’ packages would also be made locally.

The specialist facility contains multi-temperature cold rooms to store the full range of fruit & vegetables at the best temperature for maximum freshness and shelf life.

As one of Africa’s leading retailer, Shoprite has made substantial investment in its supply chain as it seeks to maintain competitiveness of its brand in the retail sector.

Shoprite opened its first store in Botswana in 1998 and now operates 14 supermarkets in the country.

Recently, the retail giant said its outlook could improve after its worst first-half performance in more than a decade, hit by supply problems in South Africa and a currency devaluation in Angola.

Total group sales across Shoprite’s more than 2,800 outlets in Africa rose just 0.2 percent in July-December to US$5.5 billion (R75.8 billion), while like-for-like sales declined by 2.7 percent from a year earlier.

In addition to the constrained consumer spending and rising operational costs, Shoprite said more than half of the group’s business went live on an IT system, which covers inventories, orders and store operations, in the six months and that adversely affected product availability for customers.