South Africa’s supermarket retailer, ShopRite, has announced it is considering a sale of “all or a majority stake” of its business in Africa’s biggest economy, Nigeria, 15 years after it opened in the West African country.
In a statement released Monday, the company said it is re-evaluating its operating model and has been approached by many investors willing to take over its Nigerian stores.
It added that it has decided to initiate a formal process to consider the sale of all or a majority stake in its retail supermarkets in the country.
“Retail Supermarkets Nigeria Limited may be classified as a discontinued operation when ShopRite reports its results for the year. Any further updates will be provided to the market at the appropriate time,” read the statement.
CNN contacted ShopRite but the company declined to comment beyond the content of the statement.
The company, with more than 2,900 outlets across Africa, also released its trading statement for 52 weeks to end June.
In the trading statement, it announced that its South African division grew by 8.7% while sales at its supermarkets outside South Africa (excluding Nigeria) fell by 1.4%.
Tough business climate
Since its launch in December 2005, ShopRite has expanded its stores across Nigeria, employing more than 2,000 people, many of whom are Nigerian.
The company also built relationships with multiple Nigerian suppliers, small businesses, and farmers as a way of supporting local job creation, its website said.
Over the years, the company has faced a number of challenges in Nigeria’s tough business climate, including the looting of its stores in response to xenophobic attacks against other African nationals in South Africa.
In 2019, protesters set fire to many entrances leading into a busy mall housing ShopRite, looting groceries and toiletries from the Supermaket in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial center.
Nigerians have taken to social media to express concerns about possible job losses if the retail giant closes its operations in the country.
“So Shoprite is leaving Nigeria, thousands of people will be without jobs now, other thousands depending on those people’s incomes,” one Twitter user wrote.
ShopRite’s planned exit comes after Mr. Price, another South African brand, closed its Nigerian stores, according to a Bloomberg report.
The company CEO, Mark Stirring, announced that Mr. Price closed its market in the country after reevaluating its strategy, to focus on its home market in South Africa.