Introducing a fraud-fighting first in South Africa

The PWC Global Economic Crime and Fraud survey 2018 South Africa cites that South Africa has the highest level of fraud in the world. PWC’s 2018 Fraud Report estimates that R100 billion was lost in revenue due to fraud.

In our age of all things digital, high value documents can be fraudulently altered within minutes with free PDF hackers, but technology can also provide a solution.

The DigSig from iPLATE Technology is fighting fraud on the front lines. It is the first and only technology that can actively protect businesses against fraud. “Scanners, PDF documents and universal fonts make forging a document child’s play,” says Nicola Tempest, Director at iPLATE. “The solution lies in making information on these documents ‘unalterable’.

Revolutionary anti-fraud technology, a first in South Africa, creates a DigSig, or digital signature, secured in a QR code that is embossed onto a document or encrypted onto a digital platform. The DigSig secures the authenticity of the information by securing the information digitally, thereby protecting the original data and making it immune from alteration.”

The iPLATE DigSig is a revolution in the fight against counterfeit documents like pay slips, proof of payment, proof of accounts, title deeds and academic qualifications.

The cost of proactively preventing fraud pales in comparison to the costs that are incurred to prosecute it. 19% of South African organisations have had to spend between twice and ten times as much on investigations as the original amount lost. (PWC Economic crime survey 2018)

“The DigSig is a digital signature secured in a QR code that is embossed onto a document or encrypted onto a digital platform,” explains Tempest. “The DigiSig secures the authenticity of the information by securing the information digitally, thereby protecting the original data and rendering it immune from alteration or forgery. The authenticity of the information can be checked using the iPLATE app that is easy downloaded from both Apple and Android app stores.”

“Levels of detection are still being outpaced by fraud risk. The rules are changing for businesses, profoundly and irreversibly, with tolerance for corporate and/or personal misbehaviour vanishing. Not only is public sensitivity about corporate misconduct at an all-time high; in some cases, corporations and leaders are also being held responsible for past behaviour, when the ‘unspoken rules’ of doing business might have been more lax. PwC’s 21st CEO Survey underscores this theme, with chief executives citing trust and leadership accountability as two of the largest business threats to growth. All of this points to a heightened risk of incidents of fraud or economic crime occurring, and to a need for organisations to take the lead in preventing it before it can take root”, says the PwC 2018 report on economic crime.

“We’re excited to be bringing this innovative technology into South Africa which is already having significant impact among both small and large businesses,” says Nicola.

Choppies: The Entrepreneurial Transition

Choppies: The Entrepreneurial Transition

Choppies commenced its operations with a single store under the name “Wayside Supermarket” in Botswana in 1986. Over the past 31 years, Choppies has grown as a home brand in Botswana and spread its wings into eight other African nations and has become a significant retailer represented in the sub-Saharan African market. Between 1986 and 1992 the group had a single store at Lobaste, Botswana and between 1992 and 1999, it added one more. Since 1999, the group embarked on a fully-fledged expansion drive taking its number of stores to 217 in the African region.

It became the first retail company listed on both Botswana Stock Exchange (2012) and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (2014). At present, the Choppies group operates in eight Southern African countries: Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and Namibia and continues its expansion into new, as well as under-serviced areas in the existing markets. The management of Choppies is supported by over 300 qualified professionals.

The African markets are growing steadily,” says Mr. Ram Ottapathu, CEO of Choppies Enterprises Limited. “Other countries (excluding Botswana) where we have operations give us the opportunity to grow into new markets, representing the second engine of growth for the Group. Today, we have over 133 stores outside Botswana, which contributed meaningfully to our profits.”

Market analysts support Mr Ram’s views. In its study on African markets, accounting consultancy firm PWC says that the sub-Saharan African market is remaining as the next ‘Big One’ and it believes that it will remain as it is in the next few decades. “The African economy is one among the few economies in the world with an annual GDP growth of more than 5%. It’s young and connected middle class is growing fast and is still deciding on its favourite brands,” the PWC report said.

In the past decade, many sub-Saharan Africa countries have emerged among the world’s fastest-growing economies. For example, in 2016, Namibia, Tanzania, and Mozambique grew at average annual rates of 6.1%, 6.69 %, and 6.3% respectively. Many African countries are moving towards better administration and deepening democracy. These developments, coupled with urbanisation and an increasing demand-oriented consumer class, have given the retailers a lot to be positive about.

The Choppies group, managed through its Botswana and the rest of Africa divisions, is a food and general merchandise retailer, selling a vast range of products at a great value. The group always puts customers at the heart of its business and always treat them with the utmost respect.

Through its Hyper Stores, Super Stores and Value Stores brands, Choppies serve customers across the diverse spectrum of Botswana society and is expanding its reach into the African continent. Over 50% of Botswana shop regularly in Choppies stores and the group has some of the most loyal customers in the country.

Today, the group operates 217 stores across Africa and employs over 16 000 people 7 000 in Botswana alone.

Choppies’ offer to customers mainly focuses on food and non-edible groceries, clothing, tobacco, beauty products and general merchandise. The offer also includes additional value added services such as financial transactions at the point of sales. In addition to manufacturer-branded products, we have a number of Choppies private label products to suit every budget.

Choppies stores range from large hypermarkets where customers can buy everything under one roof, through to small convenience stores where customers can shop quickly for their immediate needs. In addition, Choppies will be soon launching our online business which will give its customers the opportunity to shop from their homes and have their order delivered to their doors in a fixed time slots.

The group has developed Centralized Distribution Channels (CDC), in Botswana and South Africa and Zimbabwe with a strategic focus on accelerating the level of central supply in its business. At present, supply in Botswana is 60% centralized, while in South Africa and Zimbabwe it is 80%, 50% respectively. The Group aims to take this to new levels by the end of 2018 financial period. At present, Choppies operates five CDCs across the eight countries catering for groceries, fresh and perishable produce.

Choppies group has already been established as an economy retailer and it has a competitive advantage in pricing, distribution centre and store locations. The group achieves its low pricing strategy by having a smooth business cycle maintained by unbeatable distribution centre which supported by trucking network and excellent store locations.

It is estimated that each week over 3.5 million customers visit its 215 stores under three different banners in eight African countries. The Choppies group continues its conquering journey in sustainability, social responsibility, and employment opportunity. It is all part of the group‘s firm commitment to creating opportunities and bringing value to customers and communities across the African continent.

With over 16 000 staff members, the Choppies Group is a significant employment generator in the retail sector in Africa. The success of Choppies business is a result of the collective effort of this massive staff force.

The Group will continue to address the socio-economic challenges faced by the communities it serves through the supply of high-quality, affordable food for all customers while providing significant employment and economic opportunities across its value chain.

South Africa- the next big market for Choppies

At present the Choppies group operates 74 stores in South Africa, the location such as Gauteng, Northwest, Mpumalanga , Free States, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape. “ We are planning to open another 10 more stores by the end of the current financial year, taking our total number of stores over 80” says Mr Ram.

Choppies’ move comes at a time when the South African retail market faces, various economic and socio economic challenges. Factors like exchange rate volatility, the declining availability of credit and inflationary pressures adversely affected the finances of many households. However, most consumers remain aspirational, with the demand remaining strong for essential FMCG, especially products which are in line with global trends.

However, Mr. Nazzar Mulackal, Director of Operations at Choppies South Africa is confident: “We have already established here as a value retailer. We are very competent in pricing. Besides, we have been widening our product ranges in order to increase our value shares and target a wider consumer group,” he said.

According to a study of the South African retail market by Euromonitor International, grocery retailers continue to dominate retailing value sales in South Africa: “Many grocery retailers are becoming increasingly competitive in non-grocery specialists channels. Some grocery retailers operating in channels such as supermarket have introduced ranges of non-grocery products in their stores in order to showcase their differentiated offers and be more competitive,”

We have implemented aggressive pricing strategies and have expanded our product lines across numerous categories. In addition we have introduced complementary services such sale of electricity, airtime, bill payments, and play tickets,” says, Andrew Coppin, Operations Director of Jwayelani Retail – a retail business acquired by the Choppies group last year.


SA’s Zyda Rylands scoops Woman of the Year award at World Retail Awards 2017 in Dubai

SA’s Zyda Rylands scoops Woman of the Year award at World Retail Awards 2017 – Dubai

Zyda Rylands, CEO of Woolworths South Africa

At the prestigious World Retail Awards 2017, staged in Dubai in April, South Africa’s Zyda Rylands, CEO of Woolworths SA, was honoured with the Woman of the Year award.

A tailor’s daughter who hails from Cape Town, Rylands joined Woolworths in 1996 and worked in the finance and store operation teams. She steadily worked her way up and was appointed the People and Transformation Director of Woolworths in 2005 and was appointed to the Board in August 2006.

All the winners of World Retail Awards 2017:

Future Retail Challenge

Winner: Fashion Retail Academy, London, UK

Woman of the Year

Winner: Zyda Rylands, CEO, Woolworths SA

Best Digital Customer Experience Initiative

Winner: Boyner Group (Turkey)

  • Boyner Group (Turkey)

  • Dress in the City (France)

  • El Corte Ingles (Spain)

  • Geant, (United Arab Emirates)

  • Marks and Spencer (UK)

  • Saudi Telecommunication Company (Saudi Arabia)

  • Singapore Telecommunications Limited (Singapore)

  • Superdry (Berlin, Germany) and SeymourPowell (London)

Best Instore Customer Experience Initiative

Winner: Tommy Hilfiger (United States)

  • adidas, Checkland Kindleysides and Gensler, (New York, United States)

  • ‘Imagine’, Dubai Festival City (United Arab Emirates)

  • Galeries Lafayette and Sky Boy (Paris, France)

  • Globe Telecom (Philippines)

  • Hermès – petit h, Checkland Kindleysides and DML, (New York, United States)

  • L’Occitane en Provence and School House, (New York, United States)

  • PIRCH, (United States)

  • Selfridges (London, UK)

  • Siam Discovery-The Exploratorium (Thailand)

  • Tommy Hilfiger (United States)

Rodney Fitch Award for Innovation and Creativity

Winner: Marks and Spencer: Venture Labs (UK)

  • Cherine Magrabi, Creative Director of MAGRABi (UAE)

  • Dressipi, (UK)

  • Geetansh Bamania, Rentomojo (India)

  • Marks and Spencer: Venture Labs (UK)

  • Martin Darby – Celebrity Fitness, Indonesia


Young Retail Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Winner: Alyce Tran, Co-Founder, The Daily Edited, (Sydney, Australia)

  • Ryan Goldston and Adam Goldston, Co-Founders, Athletic Propulsion Labs (APL) – (United States)

  • Furqan Khan, Founder, Kixify (United States)

  • Roman Kirsch, Founder & CEO, Lesara , Berlin, Germany

  • Lana Hopkins, CEO and Founder, Mon Purse , Sydney, Australia

  • Alex Fenkell & Jordan Katzman, Co-Founders, SmileDirectClub, USA

  • Alyce Tran, Co-Founder, The Daily Edited, (Sydney, Australia)

  • Adam Schwartz, Co-Founder and COO, TeePublic (United States)

Store Design of the Year Award

Winner: Siam Discovery Exploratorium (Thailand)

  • adidas and Checkland Kindleysides and Gensler, (New York, United States)

  • Art Walk Mall N1, China (RCL)

  • Diesel, Milan (Wonderwall with Masamichi Katayama) (Italy)

  • L’Occitane en Provence and School House, (New York, United States)

  • Lune Croissanterie and Studio Esteta (Australia)

  • Magmode and Liu Kai (Hangzhou Kerry Center, China)

  • MAGRABi (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

  • Missguided and Dalziel and Pow (London)

  • Siam Discovery Exploratorium (Thailand)

  • The White Company and Household (London)

Retail Advertising Campaign of the Year

Winner: Marks & Spencer for “Christmas with love from Mrs Claus” – RKCR/Y&R (UK)

  • IKEA U.S. for “We Help You Make It” – Ogilvy & Mather (United States)

  • JCPenney for “Here I Am” – mcgarrybowen (United States)

  • Karaca for “We Have a Lot to Share” – Y&R (Istanbul)

  • Macy’s for “The Santa Project” – Figiulo & Partners (United States)

  • Marks & Spencer for “Christmas with love from Mrs Claus” – RKCR/Y&R (UK)

  • Myer for “Myer Christmas” – Clemenger BBDO Melbourne (Australia)

  • for “Magic is Real” – Mother Creative (UK)

  • Supercheap Auto for “The Best Performing Oils” (Australia)

Responsible Retailer of the Year

Winner: TOMS (United Arab Emirates)

  • Boyner (Turkey)

  • Carrefour Brazil (Brazil)

  • Flora & Fauna (Australia)

  • Jumia (Nigeria)

  • Myer (Australia)

  • Otto Group (Germany)

  • TOMS (United Arab Emirates)

  • Woolworths Holdings Limited (South Africa)

International Retailer of the Year

Winner: Sephora

  • Aesop

  • ASOS

  • Costco

  • Lidl

  • Media Saturn Group

  • Sephora

  • Steinhoff


Retailer of the Year

Winner: Amazon

  • Action

  • Amazon

  • Cotton On

  • Inditex

  • Walmart

  • Zalando

Outstanding Leadership Award

Winner: Mindy Grossman, CEO, HSNi

Retail Transformation and Reinvention Award

Winner: Kroger

Innovation Fellowship Award


Natalie Massenet

Mark Sebba

Jose Neves, Founder and CEO, Farfetch

Source: World Retail Awards 2017

Focus on West Africa’s retail sector

Focus on West Africa’s retail sector

Leonard Michau, Director and Head of Africa Operations for Broll Property Group shared these insights on the retail sector in Ghana and Nigeria during the West Africa Retail Power Panel discussion – part of the West Africa Property Investment Summit held in Accra, Ghana in November, at which Broll was the Platinum Sponsor.

Leonard Michau

Some economies in West Africa are experiencing a number of challenges including slow economic growth, shrinking private sector investments, devaluing currencies, forex shortages and uncertainty about country financial risks.

Once Africa’s sought-after economy, Nigeria is losing its attractiveness as an investment destination due to its dismal economic growth outlook triggered by the low oil prices and reduced output which has led to its first recession in 20 years.

Amid these challenges, we have seen the emergence of new formal retail developments in West Africa that started more than a decade ago, yet the development of new modern first world malls has been relatively slow during the past 10 years, especially within the context of the narrative “Africa rising” which positioned Africa as the next frontier for investment opportunities.

Asaba Mall, Nigeria

Retail penetration in West Africa is said to be less than 5 percent compared to East Africa which is estimated to be around 30 percent (South Africa 60 percent), so considering the lack of formal retail developments and the potential of consumerism, one would have expected development to be more progressive.

Investors and developers still face challenges such as the inability to find suitable land, high interest rates, poor infrastructure, land prices, land claims and red tape.

Kumasi City Mall, Ghana

In Ghana and Nigeria, retailers are now faced with a further challenge – the erosion of household disposable income since early-2015. This is reflected in the lower 2016 GDP growth rates for Ghana and Nigeria, brought about by lower commodity prices, macro-economic imbalances, foreign exchange devaluation, erratic supply and high cost of power and the general slowdown in the global economy.

In Nigeria, the retail market is likely to experience further pain due to the uncertainty and volatility around the official exchange rate and Government’s policy to restrict the availability of foreign exchange on certain imports.

The majority of planned retail developments in Nigeria have been put on hold or downsized, as trying to achieve the required pre-let percentage remains a challenge under current market conditions.

Although the retail sector is currently facing some headwinds due to the economic downturn, the long-term prospects remain compelling. The high rate of urbanisation and the expanding upper and middle class are two fundamental reasons why this sector cannot be ignored.

However, new entrants to the market need to critically review the feasibility of each project by ensuring that the mall is built in the right location, is right sized, includes sustainable rentals as well as a tenant mix that matches the primary demographics. In terms of new opportunities, while there is still a place for the so-called regional mall, there is a gap for the development of neighbourhood shopping centres of 6 000 m2 or less.

Ghana’s modern retail potential is no longer a secret as Accra alone now boasts six malls excluding retail space in mixed-use developments with more projects in the pipeline approximating 60 000 m²”

Existing malls tend to target high and middle income Ghanaians (a minority of the population), and expatriates which represent less than 20 percent of the population and in Accra middle income earners account for 32 percent of the population.

While foreign exchange, inflation and competition remain risk factors, Ghana’s low-penetration of the modern retail market remains an opportunity for new entrants into the market.

Major investors in the supply side of the formal retail sector include Atterbury, Actis, RMB Westport, Mobus, BGI and some private investors with retail brand such as Shoprite and Game having presence in almost every existing mall. Other SA retailers include Woolworths, Truworths, Identity, Edgars, Jet and Mr. Price, as well as TFG trading with American Swiss, Markham, Sportscene and Foschini brands.

International brands in Ghana include Springfield, Bata, Lego and the Azadea Group trading with five different brands – Mango, Mango kids, Payless, Violeta and Sunglass Hut.

Opportunities in Africa

Although Ghana’s economy is showing limited growth, we remain positive about Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy,” says Michau. “And opportunities exist for investment sales with many funds and investment firms looking to buy quality dollar based assets in the commercial, industrial and retail sectors.”

Michau points out that Broll is still dominant in the retail sector in Nigeria which makes up the bulk of the Broll Nigeria business. Furthermore, he explains that growth in East Africa is of significant value to the Group as plans are in place to expand service lines in countries in the east region of the continent.