CEO Mark Blair said at the release of annual results for the year to March 31, 2024 that the later arrival of winter had caused subdued trade in the first two months of the 2025 year. Despite this, there were market share gains in April 2024 and sales growth recovered strongly in early June, driven by the onset of winter.

“We have strong positive momentum, and our team is energised by the plans we have in place,” he said.

Group retail sales in the first quarter to June 11, 2024 increased 4.4%, against sales growth in the base of 17%, at higher gross profit margins than the prior year.

Blair said port inefficiency and increasing shipping costs would add pressure. However, the acquisition of port equipment by Transnet, which would take some time to become operational, was encouraging.

“In the forthcoming year the group will focus on its existing operations, raising customer service levels, and investing appropriately,” he said.

Consumer relief in the latter half of the new year was expected in the form of moderating inflation, decreasing interest rates, and a boost to discretionary spending with individuals being allowed to withdraw additional funds from their retirement savings.

In the past year, the group said it had lost about 65 000 trading hours to load shedding, or R226 million in revenue. Most of this was in the first half, as 100% back-up power was reached by the end of the first quarter.

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