Four South African retailers make it to Deloitte's global top 250

28 January 2019 3 min. read
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Following Steinhoff’s financial collapse due to a scandal last year, only one South African retail chain remains amongst the top 100 in the world, according to Big Four accounting and advisory firm Deloitte’s latest edition of the Global Powers of Retail. Wal-Mart remains on top across the world.

The retail sector across the globe appeared to perform exceptionally well throughout 2018, particularly among the top 250 players in the industry. These firms cumulatively recorded revenue growth of more than 83% over the last financial year, taking the global value of the sector to $4.5 trillion.

On average, each of the top 250 retailers raked in an average of $18.1 billion, although the actual revenue distribution was far from equitable. Wal-mart alone generated revenues of over $500 billion last year, while Costco was second worldwide by a considerable distance at just under $130 billion.

In South Africa, the retail sector has been among those maintaining some degree of stability in the economy amid overall crises with respect to falling oil and commodity prices and dipping revenue levels. The sector has steadily recorded in and around 5% growth in recent years.

Top 250 quick statistics

Nevertheless, while successful within the domestic market, South African firms appear to be lacking considerably in comparison to the best players across the globe according to Deloitte's ranking, with only four South African firms making it into the top 250 retailers worldwide, a number that has dropped from five over the last year.

Steinhoff International – previously South Africa’s largest retail chain – fell into considerable trouble due to an accounting scandal last year, which has severely dented the firm’s finances. The scandal and its immediate aftermath caused the chain’s value to fall by as much as 85%. 

As a result, the firm has fallen out of the top 250, making way for Shoprite to take the top spot for retail in South Africa. Shoprite operates in 15 countries, and generated revenues in excess of $11 billion for the last financial year, representing growth of 25%, an d a five year compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 9%.

The firm is also the only South African retailer to make it into the top 100 across the world, placing in 86th position. Shoprite was followed by Spar Group in South Africa, which generate revenues just over $7 billion over the last year, representing growth of more than 17%.

Retail revenue growth and profitability by region

Spar’s CAGR of just under 17.5%, on the other hand, is higher than any other South African retailer’s, although it placed in 140th place worldwide. The firm operates in 12 countries, which is five more than the geographical scope of the next biggest firm in South Africa – Pick n Pay. The latter generated revenues in excess of $6 billion for the last year, growing by 14.5%.

Pick n Pay placed 160th worldwide, followed by Woolworths in 179th. Woolworths operates in 14 countries and generates revenues in excess of $5 billion. Nevertheless, the retailer has demonstrated tremendous growth in recent years, including a growth rate of 18% and a CAGR of more than 14%.

The tremendous growth in South African retail firms is representative of broader growth in the African retail sector. Africa was the region with the second largest retail revenue growth last year, behind only Latin America.