Home » Botswana tycoon Ramachandran Ottapathu challenges Choppies Supermarket’s Zimbabwe eviction

Botswana tycoon Ramachandran Ottapathu challenges Choppies Supermarket’s Zimbabwe eviction

by Omokolade Ajayi
Ramachandran Ottapathu

Ramachandran Ottapathu, the multimillionaire Botswana businessman at the helm of Choppies Enterprises, a leading Gaborone-based supermarket chain, has announced plans to contest what he deems an “unlawful” eviction order issued against the retailer from a building in Zimbabwe.

The decision comes in the wake of Choppies’ eviction from a building in Gweru, Zimbabwe, after the new landlord obtained an eviction order from a High Court in Zimbabwe.

According to Ottapathu, the eviction order was secured without their knowledge, and he asserts that Choppies is well within its rights to continue operating in the building for the next five years, as per their existing lease agreement, which lapses in 2028.

People familiar with the matter explained that Choppies had an ongoing lease agreement that was set to expire in 2028, but the eviction order was triggered when Cembee Private Limited sold the building without informing the supermarket about the transaction.

The new owner of the building relied on an alleged agreement with Cembee to obtain a court order compelling Choppies to vacate the premises within 48 hours.

Consequently, the supermarket was forced to remove all its products from the building.

Despite this setback, Choppies Enterprises swiftly filed an urgent application at the High Court to challenge the eviction order. Ottapathu reassured customers, stating: “Customers must not worry too much because we will bounce back.”

Choppies Enterprises is Botswana’s largest retail chain, boasting an extensive distribution network spanning South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Kenya. The supermarket distributes both renowned international food brands and its own private-label items.

Under the leadership of Ottapathu, a prominent Botswana businessman who co-founded the retail giant with Farouk Ismail in 1986, Choppies operates as a key player in the food and general merchandise retail sectors.

In their most recent reporting period, Choppies witnessed an impressive surge in profits, with a remarkable 141.7 percent increase from BWP60 million ($4.53 million) in 2021 to BWP 145 million ($11 million) in 2022.

This growth was primarily attributed to higher sales, driven by the supermarket chain’s expansive presence across Botswana and its burgeoning footprint in three other African countries.

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