Zimbabwe’s OK says first quarter revenue flat at 5 pct on economic slowdown

By Alfonce Mbizwo
HARARE, July 19 (The Source) – Zimbabwe’s largest retailer, OK on Friday said revenue for the first quarter to 31 June rose by five percent to $123,1 million on the prior year due to a flat economy ahead of elections at the end of the month.
CEO Willard Zirewa told the company’s Annual General Meeting that the revenue was below the company’s target, which anticipated a national GDP growth of five percent.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti last month said the economy could have shrunk by up to three percent during the first quarter of the year due to election uncertainty coupled with low farm output, declining tax revenues and export earnings.
The group declared a final dividend of 60 cents per share, which was 20 percent higher on the prior year.
“Profit growth for the quarter was in line with sales growth but this should improve as we go forward with all the initiatives which are in place,” Zirewa told shareholders.
The group’s flagship OK Mart’s growth was lower the company average due to lower sales in liquor, Zirewa said.
He said a new partnership with Kawena, a South Africa distribution company presented the group with ‘very exciting’ opportunities. Kawena, which also has operations in Mozambique, buy and distributes goods for locals working in South Africa for relatives in their native countries.
It also recently signed an agreement with Aranda, a South African blanket maker for sole distributorship of its products in the country.
The company opened two outlets at Wynne Street and Chitungwiza and plans to close the Rezende Street branch at the end of the month.