South African retail giant Massmart that operates the Game Stores has revealed its plan to sell its one store in Tanzania and three in Kenya, marking the latest of a string of retreats from East Africa by a Southern African firm.
The Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed retailer announced on Friday it had put up 14 Game stores in East and West Africa for sale, citing a need to focus on its “core strengths” as the group’s losses narrowed during the half year ended June 2021.
Massmart CEO Mitchell Slape said the chain had begun a formal sales process to divest in five Game Stores in Nigeria, four in Ghana, three in Kenya, one in Uganda, one in Tanzania.
“We’ve reached the conclusion that the performance and complexity in running 14 stores in five markets in the East and West Africa is something that we needed to address,” said Slape during the group’s virtual financial results presentation on Friday.
The exit plan ends a five-year stint for the Sandton-based retailer in Kenya and further extends the poor run by South African retailers and firms who have faced headwinds trying to crack the local market.
Mr Slape said the company was in advanced discussions with potential purchasers to take over its Game stores in Kenya, adding that the country alongside other regional markets remain a difficult business environment.
He did not disclose the details, including the value of the transactions and the identity of the potential buyers, which he noted are still subject to negotiations.
Massmart senior vice-president in charge of corporate affairs, Brian Leroni, told the Business Daily that the interest of workers and suppliers would be safeguarded in the exit plan.
“We are still in the early stages of this process and are therefore not in a position to comment definitively about a specific way forward,” he said.
“Please be assured though that we will act with integrity and in a responsible manner that is respectful of our commitments to our staff, business partners and customers.”
In Tanzania, Game operates one store at Mlimani City. Massmart, majority-owned by American super chain Walmart, made its debut in Kenya with Game Stores in 2015 with its first store at the Garden City Mall. It subsequently opened two other stores at the Waterfront in Karen and the Mega City Mall in Kisumu.
Game stores are fashioned as discount shops that sell fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and non-perishable groceries through over 100 outlets in over a dozen African countries