New business opportunities and growth drivers
In 2016, we entered into a joint venture with Ceylon Biscuits Limited in Sri Lanka to establish SPAR SL. SPAR is a 50% shareholder in this joint venture company, with Ceylon Biscuits Limited holding the remaining 50%. We expect to open our first store in Sri Lanka in March 2018.
We also acquired a 47.87% share in SPAR Zambia, effective from 1 December 2016. The Zambian operation has 18 stores serviced by one distribution centre, and has also been supported by our distribution centre in North Rand, South Africa. The market shows excellent growth opportunities, with the potential to grow to more than 100 stores.
In South Africa, we acquired pharmacy wholesaler, S Buys Group effective 1 October 2017. No results for this business have been included in the current financial year.
SPAR Express has proved to be an attractive new growth prospect: following a test phase with four sites, we opened eight new stores this year and plan to open a further 25 stores in the new year, having concluded a Memorandum of Agreement with Shell.
Retailers have been operating the SPAR Express format successfully in countries such as Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. It offers a distinct convenience retail format ideally suited to high-footfall locations such as forecourts, airports, railway stations and university campus locations.
The following number of new stores were opened: