Retail growth prospects look poor for Massmart

Massmart, operator of brands including Game, Makro, DionWired and Builders Warehouse, among others, is unlikely to see increased sales until consumer confidence and spending in South Africa picks up. Massmart recently posted group operating profit growth of 19.2% (to R791.9 million), on the back of an increase of 8.7% in sales (to R42 billion) for the first-half of the year. The company’s gross margins came in at 19.3%, compared to 18.9% in the previous period. The group is divided into four divisions: Massdiscounters, Masswarehouse, Massbuild and Masscash. It’s the Massbuild division, which operates the Builders Warehouse retail arm, that is really feeling the squeeze. Massbuild grew total sales by 5.8%, while comparable sales grew by just 0.8% – worrying for a division that has historically performed very well. According to Massmart CEO Guy Hayward, (pictured) while Massmart intends to open 30 new stores in South Africa and another five in its African operations over the next two years, the remainder of 2016 won’t be easy.