Food retailer Choppies, which has been suspended from the JSE, said on Friday that full-year operating losses have widened, mainly due to poor performance in SA and Zimbabwe.  

The results are from its long delayed financial year to end-June 2019.

The Botswana-owned discount retailer said its operating loss increased from P316m (R459.18m) to P323m, mainly due to reported losses from the SA segment on the back of dismal trading conditions in the North West.

Group revenue decreased 11% to P9.6bn due to a P1.1bn decline in turnover from Zimbabwe.

Choppies has since sold 88 loss-making stores in SA to Kind Investments for R1. The retailer also blamed Covid-19 for further delaying the release of its financial year results. 

The retailer has been embroiled in legal and accounting scandals and was suspended on both the JSE and the Botswana stock exchange.

Last year, the retailer announced an investigation by an EY forensic team, which uncovered accounting irregularities in how it recorded sales and inventory stocks in SA and Zimbabwe shops. The board then suspended CEO Ramachandran Ottapathu, who was later reinstated.

The group also saw its then auditor PwC terminate its working relationship due to Choppies’ risk profile. 

Choppies struggled to find new auditors until Mazars took it on, which further delayed its results.

Choppies said in a statement that it can operate as a going concern despite it losses. “The board does not expect any material uncertainty over its ability to continue as a going concern in the foreseeable future.”

Its 2018 financial results were also delayed by a more than a year when PwC, who had replaced KPMG, refused to sign them off.