- Shoprite is launching a new standalone clothing store chain called UNIQ.
- The first store will be launched at the Canal Walk mall in Cape Town on Thursday.
- Eight stores will open their doors in the next month.
- For more financial news, go to the News24 Business front page.
Shoprite, SA's biggest grocery retailer, will be launching its first standalone clothing store in Cape Town on Thursday.
Called UNIQ, the first branded shop will be situated at Canal Walk Shopping Centre. Including this store, the JSE-listed company is scheduled to open a total of eight shops in the next month.
While the company has traditionally been associated with its dominant position in the middle to lower end of the market, it is understood that the chain will offer a range of different clothing in a higher price category.
Market analysts have welcomed the move by Shoprite, saying it had the potential to shake up the clothing sector.
ClucasGray portfolio manager Brendon Hubbard said Shoprite as a group had been very innovative with its unique offerings in sectors such as financial services, pharma and liquor as it looked to grow its business in recent years.
"They are clearly looking to take market share from their competitors."
Similarly, he expected the clothing business to be a good growth engine for Shoprite into the future, adding the group had the firepower to negotiate good rental agreements in shopping centres because of its size.
"They also have the management skills in place in existing shopping centres too and this is really incremental space and trade that they are adding to an exciting mix. It is a fantastic opportunity and I think the other retailers will be very nervous."
FNB portfolio manager Wayne McCurrie said Pick n Pay had been very successful with its Pick n Pay Clothing brand, adding that clothes were also among Makro's big sellers.
"I think it is a good market. (However) in SA, clothing does not have the same inflation rate as normal inflation. Clothing inflation has been very low for a long period, and I think a lot of that has got to do with Pick n Pay Clothing and Makro clothing."
Makwe Masilela, who heads up Makwe Fund Managers, said Shoprite had earlier flagged to the market of its plans to pilot standalone clothing stores, adding that it "makes sense for them" to do this as clothing was the "one area the group had been lacking".
People were looking for value for money, said Makwe. If Shoprite could replicate what it has "done to food" with clothing, it could stand it in good stead to make serious inroads in clothing retail.