I’m never one to shy away from a challenge and when ideas such as finding a list of Zimbabwe’s top retail companies or any other list come up my concern is always with the criteria used to determine just who deserves to be on the list and where they place. Zimbabwe isn’t short of popular retailers across many segments. There are many that we could call household names in the retail space. If you’ve ever wondered what Zimbabwe’s biggest retail companies are read below to see our take on the idea.

Method

This list includes both public listed and unlisted companies so that gives us a bit of a disparity in the information available. Public listed companies are required to make information available to the general public in semi-annual financial reports as well as quarterly trading updates. While unlisted retail concerns are not required to report publicly we will go in good faith that they would be proud enough of their achievements to beat their drum. The measure we will use to find the top retailers is the size and spread of the branch network. The logic here is the more branches you have the more business you are likely to do. However, those branches should also be spread significantly to make it count. Finally given the economic situation in Zimbabwe more weight will be given to consumer staples and FMCG than items such as clothing and luxury items.

OK Zimbabwe

With brands that include OK Stores, OK Mart and Bon Marche, OK Zimbabwe Limited stands out as the top retail company in Zimbabwe. Boasting an unbeatable 61 retail outlets nationwide they also have an impressive geographical spread across the various brands. OK also happens to be one of the biggest listed companies in Zimbabwe. Most of the OK’s business is in consumer staples while also catering for consumer discretionary expenditure through OK mart stores.

Spar

Spar is huge with 13500 worldwide and takes the second spot in our top retailer’s list but I have a little explaining to do. There are 70 spar outlets in Zimbabwe. Yes, observant human, that’s more than OK, so why does Spar come second? Only 10 of the 70 stores are owned by Spar corporate while the remaining 60 are independently owned stores trading under the Spar brand, essentially Spar franchises. Spar ranks highly despite its ownership status because of the spread of Spar stores across the nation.

TM Pick n Pay

TM PicknPay is a brand that is partly owned by Miekles Limited Zimbabwe and PicknPay South Arica. This duo has made a splash in the market with an aggressive expansion drive and today has 50 retail outlets under the TM or TM PicknPay name. They are also an FMCG retailer with a large footprint in Zimbabwe through the TM brand which has faced its challenges like many retailers in Zimbabwe. The geographical spread of their stores has always favoured higher-income areas and their stores tend to concentrate in these areas.

Simbisa

Next up on our list I Simbisa Brands and again I have some explaining to do. Simbisa has a branch network that can only be described as huge, with 550 outlets across Africa and aggressively expanding in their last financial report.  Simbisa boasts an incredible 234 outlets in Zimbabwe. The reason they placed lower down the list is because of their narrow product offering focusing on fast food and convenience. Simbisa I is not only publicly listed but also one of the biggest publicly listed companies in Zimbabwe.

CFI

From one listed company to another though this one has faced quite a few stumbling blocks along the way. CFI boasts an impressive 52 stores for its Farm & City / FC Centre brand alone. They also operate Agrifoods and Agrimix stores as well as VETCO. The company has a strong focus on agricultural support services. Their poultry division through Crest and Suncrest have seen better times with both being threatened by a land dispute that raged for years but is now resolved with the company agreeing to sell the land amicably to settlers. Despite complications along the way CFI is still one of Zimbabwe’s biggest retailers only placing low on this list because of the narrow focus of their stores.

Truworths

Truworths is a clothing retail concern that has existed in Zimbabwe for many decades. While its star hasn’t always shone brightest Truworths boasts an impressive 59 outlets across the nation. Truworths is not only a retailer but also a manufacturer with a focus on workweek and smart casual clothing. Their bill retail outlets also include Topics and Number 1 stores. Again their large branch network is counted against by the type of goods they sell. Truworths is a public listed company trading on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.

Choppies

Choppies is a regional retail chain with 250 stores in Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 32 of those stores are located in Zimbabwe serving FMCG and consumer staples industries. Choppies in Zimbabwe has a rather controversial history but that doesn’t stop it from making the list it stands out on this list as one of the few retail outlets of its size that is not publicly listed while having the advantage of selling FMCG items. Its heavy concentration in Bulawayo and poor geographical spread count against it though.

Edgars

Edgars stores limited is a publicly listed company trading on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. Edgar has seen better days after recently being disposed of by South African parent EdCon. Still, the retailer boasts 25 outlets while being a well-recognised provider of credit finance in Zimbabwe for clothing retail. Edgar’s clothing offering is spread across all clothing categories from adults to infants.

And that’s our list of the top retail companies in Zimbabwe. Any that you think should’ve made the list but didn’t? Any that you think shouldn’t have made the list? Let us know.