Saturday, 27 June 2020 05:15

Mr Price to close all stores in Nigeria

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Mr Price Group Ltd. plans to close its Nigerian business in favor of a stronger focus on its home market of South Africa.

The specialist in mid-range clothing, sports goods and homeware has already shuttered four of its five Nigerian stores and expects to close the last one in the coming months, Chief Executive Officer Mark Blair said in a presentation. Nigeria is the third country that Durban-based Mr Price has recently exited, after Australia and Poland last year.

South African companies have long struggled to operate in Nigeria, encountering supply-chain disruptions and challenges in getting funds out of the country. Woolworths Holdings Ltd., the South African seller of designer clothing and organic food, quit the West African nation in 2013, while grocer Shoprite Holdings Ltd. said last year it may close some stores in the country.

“We are really going to focus on South Africa in a more concentrated way,” Chief Financial Officer Mark Stirton said in the same presentation.

Mr Price expects “a lot of distress among retail peers” in South Africa, which is gradually emerging from a lockdown that has devastated the economy. Retailers not selling food or medical supplies were closed for five weeks through April, and were only allowed to fully open at the start of this month.

Mr Price didn’t declare a final dividend and has frozen head-office salaries to conserve cash. Last month it blazed a trail by announcing plans to sell shares to pursue growth opportunities, a move later replicated by rivals The Foschini Group Ltd. and Pepkor Holdings Ltd.

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Bloomberg