Shoprite Group is launching standalone technology stores called K’nect that will offer consumers access to services such as global money transfers, cellphone purchases, bill payments, tickets and insurance.
The retail giant launched the first K’nect store at the Delft Mall in Cape Town at the end of May and now plans to open another six stores in the coming two weeks.
The new K’nect stores will be located in Hatfield, Rosebank, Riverside Mall, Mmabatho, Watergate Mall and Illanga Mall.
Several more Shoprite K’nect stores are scheduled to open by December 2019, it said.
“Each store includes specialist tills for those transactions that take a little longer, including money transfers (local and international), tickets (travel and events), insurance and cellular (devices and accessories),” Shoprite said.
“Express tills cater for quick transactions, including bill payments (accounts and bills), airtime and data (top-up and recharge) as well as buying electricity and Lotto tickets.”
It is offering money transfer to 100 countries with rates starting at 3%.
The announcement comes on the same day that the retailer’s shares rallied the most in 22 years after it said second-half sales climbed as it took market share.
New IT system
Sales in the second half rose 6.5% as its core South African business returned to full operational strength.
The owner of chains including Checkers and U-Save introduced a new IT system and faced some industrial action in its first half. In the second six months, product availability improved significantly and surpassed levels that it had before the new system was installed.
Shoprite has more than 2 500 stores throughout Africa, but a considerable majority are in South Africa. The retailer plans to open 88 stores in the next year.
Elsewhere in Africa, Shoprite is also seeing positive momentum after problems such as currency devaluations and shortages drove up costs. Shoprite says it’s still optimistic about the long-term food retail opportunity on the continent.
The stock rallied as much as 15%, the biggest intraday gain since 29 October 1997 and traded 9% higher as of 9.53am in Johannesburg. Before today’s statement, the shares had dropped 32% this year. — (c) 2019 NewsCentral Media, with additional reporting by Prinesha Naidoo, Amogelang Mbatha and Simbarashe Gumbo, (c) 2019 Bloomberg LP