By Pieter Engelbrecht, Chief Executive Officer
In many aspects our 2023 year was extraordinary. The Group gained record levels of market share, saved customers over R13.5 billion in Xtra Savings and still managed to increase profits and dividends, despite the prohibitive cost to the business as a result of unprecedented levels of load-shedding.
Sales growth of 17.8% in our core Supermarkets RSA business is evidence that we continue to derive the benefits of our multi-year transformation strategy underpinned by our Smarter Shoprite and core supermarkets segmentation strategy.
Checkers and Checkers Hyper’s 18.0% sales growth can be attributed to superb delivery on the value and range our customers have come to know, trust and expect from the brand. Checkers Sixty60 increased sales by 81.5%, underscoring the continued growth of our Checkers omnichannel customer and validating our strategy in terms of our investment in digital and data-led decision making.
Shoprite and Usave’s commitment to the lowest prices and affordability resulted in sales growth of 15.6%. This customer, core to our business and what we stand for, is battling higher food, transport and interest costs, spurring us to continually improve product affordability. Our second half sales growth was assisted by the successful integration of the 92 Massmart stores into our Shoprite, Usave and Shoprite LiquorShop operations. We are pleased with the performance of these stores, especially in light of the considerable customer equity that was lost due to the prolonged nature of the transaction period.
We remain humbled by the extent to which our customers continued to vote with their wallets in support of our efforts across our core supermarket and LiquorShop businesses in South Africa, spending in no small measure an additional R26.0 billion more than last year with us. During a time when every cent really does count, this equated to a 1.4% increase in market share, extending our period of uninterrupted South African market share gains to 52 months.
In the context of the country’s power challenges we are pleased to still report growth in headline earnings and dividends per share. It is disappointing, however, that if not for the R1.3 billion diesel expense incurred to power generators across our South African store base, our market leading sales growth would have delivered considerably higher returns for our shareholders. Similarly, our profit growth would also have resulted in a higher Shoprite Employee Trust distribution for our employees.
In a record year for store growth, we added 340 net new stores to our base this year to total 3 326 as a Group. Our Group created 3 651 new jobs not including the 4 480 people employed by the Group since January 2023 as part of the acquisition of select businesses from Massmart. Notwithstanding the impact of the diesel on profits this year, our Shoprite Employee Trust, now in its second year, expensed R235 million (2022: R128 million) in relation to employee distributions in South Africa and equivalent awards to qualifying employees in countries outside South Africa during 2023. Despite the challenges these are amongst many commendable Group achievements this year of which I am incredibly proud. My sincere thanks are extended to our valued customers and almost 154 000 employees that make up Team Shoprite. It is a result of your leadership and collective commitment that this performance, which in turn benefits so many, was made possible.