Shoprite, the owner of Checkers and Usave stores, says it gained market share in its half year to end-December, with store expansion helping it achieve almost double-digit sales growth in its core SA business.

The group is eyeing a larger share of SA’s premium food retail segment, reporting that sales in SA grew 9.8% to R61.6bn in SA, which accounts for about three quarters of its business.

Checkers supermarket chain, inclusive of its 37 larger format hypermarkets, grew merchandise sales by 11.2% in the 26 weeks ended December 29, the group said.

The strategy of Checkers is to grow its share of spend in the mid-to-upper segment of the market continues to underpin the chain’s growth, it said.

Across the group’s major trading banners — Shoprite, Usave, Checkers and Checkers Hyper — it trades through 1,632 stores.

It opened 82 stores during 2019 and now has 28 Checkers with the FreshX format, which offer premium food offerings, such as sushi bars. The group is targeting 80 FreshX stores.

“Our group strategy to capture a larger share of SA’s premium food retail segment continues to be one of our drivers of growth as reflected particularly in the Checkers brand, together with hypers, growing sales by 11.2%,” said CEO Pieter Engelbrecht.

Profit fell, however, with the company no longer applying hyperinflationary accounting to its Angolan business, as it did in the prior comparative period.

Trading profit fell 3.9% to R4bn, with the group keeping its interim dividend per share unchanged at 156c.

The group said on Tuesday it had gained 1.1 percentage points of market share to 31.6% in its core SA business.

In its non-SA operating segment, which includes 14 countries, sales grew 4.8% in constant currency terms, but fell 3.1% in rand terms.