Maputo — Three supermarkets of the "Central" group in Maputo closed their doors on Tuesday, as their mother company, S2 Africa, announced that it was suing for bankruptcy.
S2 Africa is 70 per cent owned by Satya Capital, which is in turn owned by the Sudanese telecommunications magnate Mo Ibrahim. The other 30 per cent belongs to the Portuguese group Sonae.
A notice signed by the chairperson of the company, Miguel Seixas, said it had been obliged to being bankruptcy proceedings with the Maputo City Court due to "the impossibility of continuing to operate in the Mozambican market".
According to a report in the Maputo daily "Noticias", Seixas blamed this on "the sharp fall in household consumption".
There had been a decline in sales in the three supermarkets since the company had begun operating in Mozambique and, Seixas lamented, "despite all the efforts made by the company, it is not envisaged that the necessary level of sales can be reached".
Attempts had been made to find buyers for the supermarkets, he said, "but no offer was effectively made, and the reasons for this were linked to the high fixed operational costs faced with the current economic situation of the country".
The idea that Mozambicans are too poor to shop in supermarkets is denied by the fact that shopping centres, supermarkets and other shops, large and small, are continuing to open in various parts of Maputo.
It is more than likely that the Central supermarkets ceased trading because they were unable to compete in what is an increasingly crowded retail market.