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It has been 27 years since Shoprite, then and until recently led by Whitey Basson, took its first tentative steps beyond SA’s borders. The move was greeted by widespread market criticism. Shoprite has, mostly, proven that any pointed fingers have been hopelessly misdirected. Basson (now retired) termed African expansion Shoprite’s second growth engine and it is proving to be just that. The retailer’s trading update for the six months to December 2016 leaves no doubts. Shoprite’s operations in 14 other African countries spanning 375 stores (as at June 30 2016) delivered an exceptional 32.2% rise in year-on-year sales, to about R12.9bn. This will take non-SA operations’ contribution to almost 21% of group sales, up from 17.5% in the six months to December 2015. In constant currency terms the rise in sales in the latest update period was an even more impressive 51.7%. Working in Shoprite’s favour is the crippling shortage of foreign currency, particularly in oil-producing countries Ang...

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