Two of the JSE’s niche retailers — farmer-focused Kaap Agri and direct-selling specialist Verimark — issued trading updates on Thursday that prompted contrasting market responses. While Kaap Agri’s shares sagged slightly on a downbeat update, Verimark’s soared by more than a third on news of markedly stronger earnings. Kaap Agri reported that the prolonged drought had affected agri retail sales, with revenue for the six months to end-March increasing 5.1% to about R3.4bn. Like-for-like comparable sales growth was only 2.9%. Kaap Agri said the growth in the value of business transacted was driven mainly by a 17% rise in the number of transactions with product inflation estimated at 3.7%. Drilling down into operations, Kaap Agri said non-agri retail sales continued to show strong growth despite subdued consumer spending and low economic growth. It noted that fuel retail expansion continued with existing and acquired sites performing well. Kaap Agri’s fuel subsidiary, The Fuel Company ...

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