Saturday, November 28, 2020

Choppies wants to help communities by getting bigger

Botswana’s biggest retailer Choppies, which has been dogged by poor governance issues and staff welfare, has unveiled a new strategy centred on shared-value.

 The grocer has declared its intention to be a “genuine local community player” by contributing to local communities in a move that will see the retailer venturing into other sectors of the economy.

This was revealed in the company’s 2020 annual report released this week which shows a new  Choppies making full disclosures about its business strategies more than it has previously done.

The retailer has disclosed how it plans to provide an understanding to their business, growth strategy and the ability to create sustainable value for stakeholders in the short, medium and long term, bound together by a shared value strategy that was partially developed by a US-based global consultancy firm.

“While it was already occurring in practice, they assisted in mapping it out and incorporating it into key performance indicators and professionalising what was already Choppies’ secret to success. This is evident in the fact that Choppies is the largest private sector employer in Botswana with a vast distribution network especially in underserved rural areas,” the company said in the report.

With 93 stores and plans to add more, the retailer says their aim is for 90 percent of the population to be within a 10 km radius of a Choppies store. The benefit will not only be to Choppies bottom-line, but also the communities, as its sprawling empire creates a  distribution network that has provided access to most citizens as consumers and remote farmers with a transport network, and resulted in 75 percent of fresh produce sold by Choppies produced locally, the company said.

The retailer revealed plans to reduce dependence on external suppliers by supporting local entrepreneurs with local knowledge, helping them to build capacity, adopt backward integration in key sectors, support innovative practices of suppliers and aid quality enhancement and sustainability practices of all supply chain participants. This collaboration will see Choppies exploring some business opportunities which are not part of their current core operations.

The retailer has already positioned itself in the agriculture value chain, staking its success alongside its suppliers, revealing more plans to assist local businesses to derive shared benefits from trading with it. The company revealed it supports farming community in the country in the form of temporary advances and crop buying bulk agreements.

“This will encourage the renewed interest in farming activity and food security of the nation, and aligns with our shared value approach, benefiting the farmers and customers as well as Choppies and its investors,” the company said.

Furthermore, Choppies plans to  use idle transportation capacity, taking advantage of its over 516 trucks,  to help small producers reach new markets and at the same time provide the population with access to better products. The retailer is even considering segments that go beyond being a budget grocer, announcing plans also to develop distributed energy facilities using the stores’ roofs and waste that provide energy directly to its stores and to the community as well as the grid.

The waste management business will be taken a notch up by dabbling in recycling  own waste generated from its operations and will also collect from the population and farmers to transport to own or third-party recycling plants or feed local biomass plants, suggests the company annual report.

The retailer’s hunger for expansion in other sectors of the economy will see it tapping into healthcare access, with plans to provide points for medicine collection and basic health diagnostics and care in collaboration with private clinics in underserved areas. Furthermore, Choppies intends further develop the financial services provided at Choppies stores, broadening its offerings that include insurance and personal loans.

The retailer this year scored a contract with Botswana Post to distribute old-age pensions which was previously only available from post offices.

“This has made the service more accessible to pensioners while Choppies enhances loyalty to its home-grown brand by helping the community,” the company said.

The Covid-19 pandemic seems to have sparked a creative spark in the retailer which plans to leverage on technology to develop online and delivery services which are set to continue post lockdown.

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