Massmart, the owner of Makro and Game, has reported an almost double-digit fall in half-year sales as the Covid-19 pandemic further weighed on a group already trying to turn around some of its struggling stores.

The group reported a net loss of R1.17bn in its half-year to June 28, from a loss of R832m previously, with sales falling 9.7% to R39.6bn.

Massmart has 420 retail and wholesale stores in 13 sub-Saharan countries.

The group closed 23 DionWired stores during the period, and restructuring costs associated mainly with this, and other store closures and potential store closures, resulted in additional costs of R47.4m.

The group expects further pressure on SA’s consumers, but said it had made progress in its turnaround plan and managed to contain operating expenses, which rose 1.9%.

“We expect the uncertain operating environment and negatively impacted economy related to the Covid-19 pandemic to persist,” the group said. “While trade in all our categories is currently permitted, future Covid-19-related trading restrictions remain uncertain.”