Choppies CEO Ramachandran Ottapathu briefly fields PATRIOT BUSINESS questions; flatly denying that the company is about to delist. He insists that their decision to pull out of underperforming markets is paying dividends as retained operations are excelling.
How has Choppies survived the Covid-19 headwinds?
RAM: We have worked even harder and come up with strategies that can help us survive the Covid-19 aftermath.
Discuss the level of profitability during the pandemic period compared to pre covid period
RAM: Covid-19 did affect our profitability.
Did you have to cut out any employees from work?
RAM: We did not.
Discuss your overall business strategy during this time
RAM: We have had to adapt to the new normal. The organisation has been met with a shift in our customers buying behaviour and therefore we have devised digital channels for shopping as well as delivery services that have gone a long way in mitigating some of the challenges. Our aim is to try not to lose market share during this time.
What is your medium to long term strategy for the business?
RAM: We look forward to a managed expansion in profitable regions. Choppies being a one stop shop in the communities in which we operate, our shared value strategy will transform the communities in which we operate
Suspicions have emerged that you, together with Farouk Ismail as leading shareholders of the business, maybe preparing to delist the business following a spate of share purchases. What is your take on this?
RAM: There is no such thing happening. We are not preparing for a delisting.
Are you confident that the share price will start picking up soon?
RAM: One cannot predict the performance of the share price; however we do remain hopeful that will be the case.
What is the projected financial performance for this financial year?
RAM: Being a listed company we hope that we do not lose our market share.
Covid-19 pandemic broke out just as your company was emerging from a devastating internal storm of its own. Has the company fully restored its governance system?
RAM: The Company is building and growing; the governance system is intact.
A number of key appointments were supposed to be made like deputy CEO and others. Have these been made?
RAM: This is true, some of these posts have been filled and others the process is still on-going.
What safeguards has the company put in place to ensure that there is no repeat of the debacle
RAM: We have a solid governance system and a board that is dedicated to ensuring the overall success of the group.
Having pulled out of some markets to concentrate on high potential and lucrative ones; is this bearing desired results?
RAM: This has helped return the group to profitability, so the answer is yes.
Which of the existing markets are performing well?
RAM: They all are; Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
How many new stores has the company opened in the past year and which countries?
RAM: Seven stores in total, 4 in Zambia 2 in Namibia and 1 Botswana.