Botswana’s popular citizen-owned chain store, Choppies, has continued to spread its indelible mark in South Africa’s North West province by opening yet another outlet in Mafikeng on Friday.
The development, which was reportedly destined to elevate the area economically, was seen as a plus for Choppies.
Mercy Tumane, Chief Director, Trade and Industry in the Department of Economic Development and Tourism in South Africa, said, “It is my conviction that although, South Africa is considered as an economic giant in the SADC region, and probably on the continent, some of the pains that Botswana has experienced are issues that we are still grappling with in the North West province.”
That is mainly because North West province is one of the least economically developed areas of South Africa.
Against that background, the South African official expressed the hope that her province would benefit from the retail environment cascading economic effects.
She added that the optimism is heightened by the recognition that Choppies has a practice of dedicating a significant amount of procurement to local producers in the communities within which they operate to ensure sustainability and equitable economic participation by communities.
Tumane, however, cautioned that it would be ideal if Choppies’ zest to participate in the South African retail market was spurred by a well researched study of the nature and dynamics of the business and competition terrain in that country, than just based on the perceived success of competitors like Pick n Pay and Checkers.
Moreover, Tumane, who spoke on behalf of the North West MEC for Economic Development and Tourism, Mmaphefo Matsemela, observed that retail industry generally does not add value to the economy, “If not to do the opposite and thereby contribute to regional leakages.”
But strikingly, Choppies was relegated to a special category on account of its declared commitment that they will buy and sell locally produced goods.
“In this way you will indeed be contributing effectively to the growth of Geographic Gross Domestic Product of this province,” said the South African official.
Kebonang Sadique, the Executive Director of Choppies ÔÇô Botswana, pointed out that the decision by his company to head for the South came after, “We had reached all corners of Botswana and that given our performance, and the most logical thing was to look out further afield.”
According to Sadique, it was largely due to the support from a satisfied customer base and Botswana’s business friendly environment that Choppies now have to expand beyond Botswana’s borders into the North West.
On whether the company’ entrance into the market was informed by any particular research, Sadique intimated that Choppies regards competition as a natural phenomenon, especially operating in a foreign land where there are already established brands.
“But we have our own tested strategies which include not only being rooted in the communities we serve, but also an Endeavour to continually perfect our employees’ customer service skills,” Sadique stated proudly.
To buttress Sadique’s statement, the Sunday Standard randomly picked one of the customers who claimed to be a local resident, during the course of the launching event at the Mafikeng store to hear what they had to say about the newly opened store.
“It was a very exciting experience and prices are amazingly low,” said Beatrice Amoa.
She added that the smiles in the face of attendants had a way of saying, “Come again tomorrow, and one hopes everything stays that way, in which case, Choppies will be uncontested.”
Apparently, Choppies started as single small shop, called Wayside in Lobatse (Botswana) in 1986 operating up to 1993. Mention was made of the fact that the shop grew from then to 52 stores by 2009(46 in Botswana and 6 in South Africa).
The store is presently 100% citizen-owned and controls 40% of fast moving consumer goods market in the country, with aspirations to spread wings as far afield as the whole of Southern Africa.