JOHANNESBURG Feb 23 South African retailer
Massmart reported an almost 16 percent rise in
full-year profit on Thursday, as the firm controlled costs and
closed some of its less profitable stores in a tough economic
Massmart, majority-owned by Wal-Mart Stores Inc,
posted diluted headline earnings per share of 587.6 cents for
the 12 months to end-December, compared with 508.8 cents a year
Africa's most advanced economy accounts for more than 90
percent of the firm's sales, but spending by South African
consumers has been constrained by inflation, rising debt levels
and an unemployment rate of more than 25 percent.
Food and liquor sales increased by 11.7 percent, outpacing
general merchandise sales growth of 1.5 percent, Massmart said.
"It is clear that general merchandise continues to be
negatively impacted by very low discretionary spending by
consumers," the company said.
Massmart increased its total retail space by 1.2 percent
over the period, but closed 10 of its more than 400 stores.
"We are hopeful that several key economic drivers in South
Africa will improve in 2017 - lower food price inflation, some
rand strength and possibly lower interest rates," chief
executive Guy Hayward said in a statement.
Headline EPS is the main profit measure in South Africa and
strips out certain one-off items.
(Reporting by TJ Strydom; Editing by Ed Stoddard)