South Africa’s Spar Group reported on Wednesday a marginal rise in its annual profit and a slower turnover growth of 2.9%, weighed down by lockdown restrictions across all its markets as well as the impact of the civil unrest at home.

The grocery retailer said diluted headline earnings per share (Heps), the main profit measure in South Africa, edged up to 1,193.7 cents in the year ended 30 September, from 1,131.5 cents a year earlier.

The mixed performance across Southern Africa, Ireland, South West England, Poland and Switzerland helped deliver a group operating profit of R3.4bn, down 1.5% year-on-year, while group turnover growth came in at R127.9bn.

Spar Southern Africa contributed growth in wholesale turnover of 3.4%, with the core wholesale food business sales declining 0.4% against a high base of 2020 when demand for home-cooking during the height of the pandemic soared.

The impact of the civil unrest and subsequent closure of many stores due to looting and arson attacks impacted the business during the fourth quarter.

lThe estimated wholesale turnover loss is R638.4m across Spar’s core grocery, liquor and build-it businesses, about 0.8% of turnover.

BWG Foods – the group’s Ireland and South West England majority-owned business – delivered turnover growth of 3.5% in euro terms, while Spar Switzerland reported a 5.6% increase in turnover in Swiss francs.

The new Polish business saw sales growth of 16.2%.

By Nqobile Dludla