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Choppies list on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange

Botswana’s Choppies surged on its stock market debut in Johannesburg yesterday as investors piled into the grocer that has laid down an aggressive expansion plan. Choppies, which already trades and is listed in Botswana, rose to as high as R5.50, well above a R4.90 offer price prior to the listing.

The company’s stock closed the day 10.2 percent higher at R5.40, giving the company market capitalisation of about R7 billion.

"Growth is in the DNA of this company. In the years between 2002 and 2007, we grew Choppies seven times without negatively affecting profitability," said CEO Ram Ottappath, when asked if management could cope with the proposed amount of growth in store numbers. "We’ll double this business; we’ll grow significantly without compromising profitability."

Four years ago the company operated only 57 stores in Botswana, while now it operates 125, and has been growing annual revenue at an average of 27%. Gross profit has increased at a compound annual growth rate of 34% since 2011, reaching 177-million pula in financial 2014. In the next two months Choppies will start operations in Namibia, Zambia and Tanzania, targeting lower-to middle-income consumers.

It will also enter Kenya before the end of the year.

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