South Africa’s Massmart loss widens to over $65 mln as virus hits store sales

Headline loss widens

Store sales fall 10%, online picks up

Incurs impairment charge of 55.5 mln rand

Adds details from statement

JOHANNESBURG, Aug 27 (Reuters)South African retailer Massmart Holdings Ltd MSMJ.J said on Thursday its first-half headline loss widened to 1.1 billion rand ($65.21 million), as sales at its stores fell due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The company, majority-owned by Walmart WMT.N and operator of supermarkets and wholesalers, including Makro and Game, said in a statement its headline loss, the main earnings measure in South Africa, dropped by 36% in the six months to June 28 from a headline loss of 800 million rand in first half of 2019.

Sales fell by 9.7% to 39.6 billion rand, with comparable store sales decreasing by the same amount, impacted by trading restrictions on liquor, tobacco, building materials, DIY and general merchandise products like TV sets.

Online sales, however, surged by 95% as consumers shied away from shopping in store to avoid the coronavirus.

The retailer, operating 420 retail and wholesale stores in 13 African countries, impaired certain Game, Cambridge and wholesale cash & carry stores resulting in impairment expenses of 55.5 million rand during the period.

It also incurred restructuring costs of 47.4 million rand following the closure of all of its electronic retail chain Dion Wired stores and 11 cambridge and wholesale cash & carry stores.

($1 = 16.8686 rand)

(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Promit Mukherjee and Rashmi Aich)

((nqobile.dludla@thomsonreuters.com; +27115952816; Reuters Messaging: nqobile.dludla.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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