Many questions have been asked of Massmart over the years, as its performance among SA’s listed retailers began to crumble. What future does a concept like Game have? What’s with the food experiment? And why do I still need a Makro card? But the biggest curiosity has been the almost total absence of parent Walmart. Since shelling out a not-inconsequential $2.5bn for their African springboard in 2010, Walmart has been more of a silent shareholder than the force of nature that Massmart’s competitors expected from having the world’s largest retailer in their backyard.Maybe Walmart’s purchase struck the right level of fear in the remaining locally owned players, keeping them competitive. It almost feels as if Massmart, more than its peers, came off worse from the Walmart link.Finally, however, the absent parent appears to have woken up. Losing four-fifths of your investment can do that. Perhaps Walmart simply wanted to give its local management time to come right but whatever the reaso...

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