The Herald (Harare)

12 May 2014

Zimbabwe: Meikles to Open More Mega Stores, TM Supermarket Suspends Senior Manager

Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed group Meikles Limited's retail arm, Meikles Mega Market intends to make forays into the lower end of the market by setting up eight additional retail branches across all cities in the country, a company official has said.

The retail unit recently opened two units in Harare and plans an additional eight branches set to be operational by year end. The move is part of the group's strategies to boost revenue and unlock shareholder value.

Meikles limited rolled out this initiative to establish a mass market unit meant to cater for the low income bracket.

In an interview with The Herald Business last week, MMM general manager Mr Panganai Ngorima said the holding company has set sights on expanding its retail business.

"Already two units have been opened in the capital where we want to cater for all classes of the society and this new concept will service and support the lower end of the market

"More units are set for Mutare among other cities, as the company rolls out strategies to cater for workers who were almost retrenched at the department stores division last year," said Mr Ngorima.

He said there has been further rationalisation of the departmental stores together with a drive to create greater values in the group's properties.

This move comes at a time when most Zimbabwean retailers are facing disposable income challenges due to an acute liquidity crisis.

In addition local retailers have been facing competition from cheaper products from China and South Africa mainly due to issue of prices.

Last year Meikles Department Stores announced its intention to retrench about 55 workers a decision which was later reversed to give birth to Meikles Mega Market which later accommodated the workers.

Mr Ngorima said retail divisions continues to encounter demanding environmental challenges particularly tight market liquidity conditions and depressed consumer expenditure.

In a statement last year, Meikles Limited chairman Mr John Moxon said that due to liquidity constraints, capital expenditure and working capital requirements the group will continue to roll out new units to unlock shareholder value.

Mr Moxon said substantial funding requirements were put in place to make sure MMM becomes a great success in the highly competitive retail industry.

Meanwhile, TM Supermarkets has sent one of its directors and senior manager for TM Supermarkets, Mr Bisset Chimhini on suspension pending disciplinary hearing for violating procurement procedures.

Mr Chimhini, the chief operating officer at TM Supermarkets, is expected to appear before a disciplinary hearing soon for procuring alcoholic beverages from alleged unlicensed suppliers.

Sources familiar to the developments said there may have been violations of the law and police may be called in.

Mr Chimhini's suspension follows the "pre-retirement" leave of the chain's managing director Mr Dave Mills last week.

Meikles is one of the leading retail and hospitality groups in Zimbabwe comprising TM Supermarkets, Meikles Hotels, Tanganda Tea Estate, and Thomas Meikles Stores, trading under the names of Meikles, Barbours and Greatermans.

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