Picture: CHOPPIES/ FACEBOOK
Picture: CHOPPIES/ FACEBOOK

Choppies’ share price fell as much as 85% on Tuesday morning after the Botswana-based food retailer said it would miss a deadline to publish its financial results for the year to June.

Choppies expanded its footprint in SA in 2015 and competes with the likes of Shoprite and Boxer. The Johannesburg-and Botswana-listed company had 71 stores in SA in 2017, making the country its second-largest market after Botswana.

It also operates in Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The group, which is reportedly in a dispute about its shareholding structure in Zimbabwe, said "a number of matters requiring the attention of the board and management, which may impact materially on the results, are being considered.

"The possible reporting impacts of these matters have not yet been finally and fully determined," the company said in a statement, adding it would miss the reporting deadline of September 30 2018.

The group said its profit after tax would fall by at least 20%, though it could not yet quantify the decline.

Choppies’ shares closed 73% lower on the Botswana Stock Exchange and 72% lower at 46c on the JSE.

The group, which operates across Southern and East Africa, listed on the JSE in May 2015 at R4.90 per share.

City Press recently reported that Choppies’ shareholders in Zimbabwe were in a tussle over the size of their holding.

Zimbabwean company Nanavac Investments, which is owned by that country’s former second vice-president, Phelekezela Mphoko, and his son, believes it is a 51% shareholder in the local unit.

But Choppies claims that Nanavac’s interest in the business is a mere 7%, according to the report.

One analyst, who asked not to be named, said on Tuesday the market was concerned that Choppies had "some problems in terms of internal controls, or a lack thereof, hence the delay in publishing the results".

Another analyst said Choppies’ dramatic share decline could make it a takeover target for the likes of SA’s Shoprite.

Cratos Capital portfolio manager Ron Klipin held the view that Choppies was under "quite a bit of pressure".

"They’re a small player in a big pond, where the big players have the benefit of large-scale purchasing power," Klipin said.

"In the longer term, I’m not sure that a small player can survive in that sort of market, and I would suspect that with their wide geographical footprint, the cost of distribution could be a problem for Choppies," he said.

hedleyn@businesslive.co.za

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