Shoprite Workers During a Protest in Nigeria

Shoprite set to conclude sale of outlets, exit Nigeria amid Labour crisis

*Shoprite Holdings Limited, a South African value chain retail company, has disclosed that it is set to conclude the sale of Nigerian supermarkets by the end of 2021

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

As it gradually prepares to leave the country, Shoprite Holdings Limited, South African value chain retail company, has stated that it is set to conclude the sale of Nigerian supermarkets by the end of 2021.

The firm Shoprite disclosed this in its latest ‘financishopriteal’ report for December 2020 operations on its Web site.

Shoprite stated that it will shut down operations in the country by disposing a 100 percent equity stake in its Nigerian retail outlets.

According to the company, it is currently awaiting approval from the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) after lodging the transaction with the regulatory agency.

The management expects the transaction to be approved by the end of the 2021 financial year, Shoprite stated in the report.

It was also gathered the Management was in the process of concluding a franchise agreement for the brand to remain in Nigeria as well as an administration and services agreement to provide support to the new shareholders with operating the outlets.

Pieter Engelbrecht, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Shoprite, said: “We are at the approval stage in terms of the sale of our Nigeria supermarket operations.”

The firm’s CEO disclosed though the capital allocated to the region remains at a minimum, the company would continue to manage costs as best as it can.

“Statement of comprehensive income reflects profit from discontinued operations separately; assets and liabilities relating to the Nigeria operations disclosed as held for sale,” Engelbrecht stated.

Meanwhile, as the company says it prepares to wind down operations in its supermarkets across Nigeria, it is recalled that the Management of the company has been having running battles with its workers over Labour-related issues in recent times.

Shoprite workers at Friday, April 2 at Lugbe, in Abuja, FCT, yet embarked on another round of protests besides the one earlier held in Lagos, shutting down the business over a row with the management, report said.

Mr. Cherish Ogenyi, Unit Chairman and Coordinator of the Northern Region of the National Union of Shop and Distributive Employees (NUSDE), an affiliate of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), described the action as “picketing”, Premium Times report also said.

Ogenyi said: “What you see happening here today is just a picketing type of strike; that is what the workers came here to do. Just to picket the entrance of Shoprite.

“Apparently, in a bid to stop them from trading until our pending proposals and demands are met by the management.”

It was gathered that sequel to the purchase of Shoprite Nigeria by some local investors, Ogenyi said the workers were supposed to be paid off and not transferred to the new owners without their consent.

“We held a similar strike on March 2, to which they rushed to the Ministry of Labour to lodge a complaint to them, the Ministry of Labour called us and an MoU was reached and agreed upon.”

He explained that one of the contents stipulated in the MoU with the Ministry of Labour in Lagos State was that Shoprite must not hand over on or before April 1, until all the parties come together to negotiate the pending agreement they had.

The Unit Chairman added: “It was noted on the proposal that they are supposed to pay us off as workers, but we understand that gratuity is not obtainable under the Nigerian Labour Act.

“It has been expunged in 2004 Act as amended and is being replaced with pension act.

Under the same Labour Act.

“We have redundancy and when an entity is sold, the employee role under the old employer becomes redundant.”

Subsequently, consumers who came for shopping but could not gain entrance into the mall in Abuja shared their thoughts.

Emmanuel Yusuf said he felt disappointed with what happened, but that he is in full support of what the workers are doing after looking at the reasons why the protest is being staged, according to report.

Yusuf said: “People can’t come to our country, invest, and we give you all you need and then you have Nigerian staff that are not treated very well, that’s bad.”

Mr. Bayani Yukana, who also reportedly came with the hope of buying items at the supermarket for use at Easter, was disappointed.

“The staff are demanding their rights, and since they’re into business they know what is right for them and the other new company taken over.”

However, the Management of Shoprite, in a memo issued by Mrs. Adeola Kagho, Divisional Human Resources Manager, said the workers may be dismissed should they fail to return to work.

The memo said: “Please note that your conduct is in breach of your contract of employment, company rules and procedures and the applicable federal legislation.

“The company is not prepared to tolerate your participation in any unlawful industrial action.”

Mrs. Kagho further stated that “the company is now considering appropriate action to be taken against you (workers), and this may include your summary dismissal, should you disregard the instruction/ultimatum hereunder.”

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