South Africa's Shoprite lifts Q1 sales, on strong Africa sales

A customer shops at a Shoprite store in Johannesburg, September 7, 2013. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

By Tiisetso Motsoeneng JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African retailer Shoprite reported a 10 percent rise in July-September sales on Monday, helped by a strong showing at its sub-Saharan stores outside its struggling home market. Shoprite, Africa's biggest grocer with stores in several sub-Saharan countries, said sales outside South Africa surged 29.1 percent in the three months to end-September, more than three times the growth rate at home. Consumer demand in Africa's biggest economy remains tepid, given the weak economy and as banks tighten their lending criteria. Shoppers have also been squeezed as the weaker rand currency fuels inflation and higher petrol prices. Shoprite, which runs more than 150 supermarkets in 16 African countries outside South Africa, opened 14 new outlets in those markets in the past year, it said. On Monday it said it would open a total of 46 new stores by the end of the year. The company said in August it could double the number of stores across the fast-growing continent in next four years with the bulk of new outlets in oil-rich Angola and Nigeria. After more than two years as investor favourites, South African retailers have fallen out favour due to concern that high personal debt levels and reluctance among banks to lend will put further pressure on spending. Shares in Shoprite, which are down about 12 percent so far this year, fell 0.7 percent to 179.46 rand, lagging behind a 0.6 percent gain the JSE Top-40 index.