Choppies Enterprises, a Gaborone-based supermarket chain led by Botswana businessman Ramachandran Ottapathu, laid off 826 employees in Botswana at the end of its 2022 fiscal year, as the retail behemoth embarked on a strategic restructuring move to reduce expenses and increase earnings.
According to figures obtained from the group’s 2022 and 2021 financial results, about 826 workers left the company in 2022, as the total number of the group’s active workers in Botswana fell from 6,743 to 5,917 at the end of its 2022 fiscal year.
The move follows a restructuring initiative to strengthen the company’s financial position and shareholder return during a period of high operating costs due to macroeconomic instability, geopolitical unrest, global inflation, interest rate hikes, and supply chain disruptions.
Choppies’ profits rose by 141.7 percent from BWP60 million ($4.53 million) in 2021 to BWP145 million ($11 million) in 2022 thanks to higher sales driven by a broad presence across Botswana and a growing footprint in three other African countries.
Outside of Botswana, the group’s workforce grew significantly, with 257 new employees joining its operations in Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Namibia. In 2022, its operations in these countries accounted for 30 percent of its revenue.
During the year, it appointed a new country head in Namibia, a new chief operating officer in Zambia, and a new financial manager in Zimbabwe, and it plans to appoint a deputy CEO as part of its succession planning objectives.
Despite the layoffs of 826 employees in Botswana, Choppies is still the second-largest employer in the country after the government and employs the largest proportion of people with disabilities.
Choppies Enterprises is Botswana’s largest retail chain, with a centralized distribution network in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Kenya. It distributes both well-known international food brands and its own private-label items.
The group operates as a leading player in the food and general merchandise retail segments under Ottapathu, who co-founded the retail behemoth with Farouk Ismail in 1986.