Shoprite Says Retailer Would Mull Expansion Outside Africa

(Bloomberg) -- Shoprite Holdings Ltd. would consider expanding outside Africa as the continent’s largest food retailer seeks additional fast-growing markets, Chief Executive Officer Whitey Basson said.

“There are countries that have great potential,” Basson said in a phone interview on Tuesday, without giving a timeframe. The company would be wary of overpaying for acquisitions if it decided to use that method of growth, he said.

A move outside the company’s home continent would follow in the footsteps of fellow South African retailer Steinhoff International Holdings NV, which has transferred its primary listing to Frankfurt and made bids for companies in France, the U.K. and the U.S. Shoprite Chairman and South Africa’s richest man, Christo Wiese, is also the biggest shareholder in Steinhoff.

Vietnam and Cambodia are examples of markets that look interesting to Shoprite, Basson said, while the company would consider India if the country further opens up its retail sector to foreign investors. Unlike Steinhoff, the company doesn’t see many opportunities in Europe and high levels of competition in the U.S. make expansion there difficult, the CEO said.

Shoprite operates in 15 African countries and got 17 percent of its trading profit from supermarkets outside its home market of South Africa in the year through June, compared with 12 percent a year earlier, the Cape Town-based company said in its full-year earnings statement. The African continent remains the source of much of the retailer’s future growth, Basson said in the statement.

The shares fell 1.2 percent to 196.16 rand at 9:27 a.m. in Johannesburg on Wednesday, valuing the company at 113 billion rand ($8 billion). The stock has advanced 37 percent this year, the best non-mining performer on the FTSE/JSE Africa Top 40 Index.