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Botswanan retailer Choppies plans to exit South African market

GABORONE, Aug 14 (Reuters) – Botswanan budget retailer Choppies Enterprises said on Wednesday it planned to sell its stores in South Africa as growth stutters and unemployment soars in Africa’s most advanced economy.

The company, whose stock is currently suspended from trading on its primary bourse in Botswana as well as on the Johannesburg stock exchange, operates 88 stores in South Africa.

“Exiting the South African market is the appropriate strategic decision for the company,” it said in a statement after completing a strategic review of its business.

“Choppies has commenced a process which may result in the divestment of Choppies Supermarkets SA (Pty) Ltd in whole or in part.”

Choppies, which operates in eight African countries, saw its shares plunge by more than 60% last September after announcing a delay to the publication of its financial statements.

The results were delayed after the company’s external auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) raised concerns with the board in respect of the audit for the year ended June 30, 2018.

South Africa’s economy is struggling for momentum.

Although retail sales rose in June, data on Wednesday showed, the economy shrank in the first quarter, and data last month showed unemployment at its highest in over a decade. (Reporting by Brian Benza; Editing by Alistair Smout and Mark Potter)

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