Shoprite to spend $205 million on Nigerian real estate

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African supermarket chain Shoprite SHPJ.J said on Tuesday it will spend $205 million on property development in Nigeria to overcome a lack of infrastructure and capitalize on rising consumer spending.

Africa’s top retailer, which reported a 20 percent jump in full-year earnings, is pushing aggressively into underdeveloped, fast-growing markets on the continent, with a focus on Nigeria - Africa’s most populous country - and oil-rich Angola.

But its expansion, like those of other South Africa, retailers, has been hampered by the lack of shopping malls in most of the continent.

“I think we are going to see more and more of these property investments in the rest of Africa because many of these markets have great opportunities but little or no infrastructure,” said Ron Klipin, a portfolio manager at SA Stockbrokers.

Shoprite said it plans to open nine new stores in Nigeria by the middle of next year, bringing its total to 13, and 21 new stores in Angola.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc WMT.N has been slow in its Africa expansion a year after taking 51 percent stake in domestic retailer Massmart MSMJ.J, underscoring the lack of retail infrastructure.

Shoprite missed forecasts with a 20 percent rise to 607 cents in full-year profit on Monday, as nagging unemployment and rising debt levels put pressure on consumer spending.

That was below the average estimate of 617 cents in a Thomson Reuters poll of 13 analysts.

Headline EPS, the main measure of profit in South Africa, excludes certain one-time items.

But shares in the company climbed 2.35 percent to 159.90 rand, extending gains so far this year to 18 percent and reflecting expectations of healthy returns from its expansion on the rest of the continent.

Sales rose 14.4 percent to 82.7 billion rand ($10 billion), with its operations outside its mainstay South African market lifting sales by 25.4 percent.

Shoprite is the first of three major South African retailers to post results this week.

Consumers in Africa’s biggest economy are battling with high personal debt levels, rising electricity prices and chronic unemployment but above-inflation wage hikes and decades-low interest rates have somewhat softened the blow.

South African retail sales jumped 8.3 percent year-on-year May, official data showed, beating the 4.7 percent growth economists had expected. ($1 = 8.3059 South African rand)

Editing by David Dolan and David Cowell