LARGEST RETAILER OPENS ITS FIRST SOWETO STORE

SOWETO, South Africa (FNS) -- Shoprite, South Africa's largest food retailer, has opened its first supermarket in the black township of Soweto.The 35,000-square-foot store is in a new shopping mall here developed by Sanlam Properties, Johannesburg, one of South Africa's largest property companies. The Shoprite group is unrelated to the U.S. supermarket chain of the same name sponsored by the Wakefern

SOWETO, South Africa (FNS) -- Shoprite, South Africa's largest food retailer, has opened its first supermarket in the black township of Soweto.

The 35,000-square-foot store is in a new shopping mall here developed by Sanlam Properties, Johannesburg, one of South Africa's largest property companies. The Shoprite group is unrelated to the U.S. supermarket chain of the same name sponsored by the Wakefern Food Corp., Elizabeth, N.J. The store here is similar in layout to Shoprite's other 237 stores nationwide, with an in-store bakery, delicatessen and fresh fruit and vegetable department, a Shoprite spokeswoman said. The merchandise mix differs slightly from the company's other stores, however, in order to cater to local tastes. Shoprite has stores in other black townships in South Africa, but the recently opened store is the first modern supermarket in Soweto. Previously the area's 3 million consumers had to travel to stores outside Soweto or pay above-average prices for groceries sold by the township's many convenience stores. Shoprite's arrival has caused many of these stores to close or adjust by focusing on after-hours sales, cutting prices or selling more specialized nonfood products.

Sanlam, a subsidiary of South Africa's second-largest insurance company the Sanlam Group, is the country's largest developer of shopping malls. The 68-store mall in Soweto is in the Dobsonville area and is a mix of nationwide chains with local stores. Sanlam plans to sell 49% of the project as shares to local investors at some stage. The company reportedly has plans for two other malls in black townships, including a super-mall in another area of Soweto. It could not be learned whether these developments will have any food retailers.