Choppies boardroom coup fuels nervousness among suppliers

Mired in an accounting scandal, supermarket chain Choppies suspended CEO Ramachandran Ottapathu last week, but this move does not seem to have gone done well with some of its suppliers, amid media reports of empty shelves in some of its outlets.

Botswana-based Choppies operates around 250 stores across eight sub-Saharan countries, and Ottapathu, who has been at the helm since the early 1990s, is the largest shareholder in the business. Botswanan website Mmegi Online reported that “Authoritative sources said tensions around Choppies were already manifesting themselves in a loss of confidence amongst suppliers.” “Mr Ram is Choppies, and there is no Choppies without him. Suppliers are reluctant to deal with anyone else. They know him and they trust him,” one industry source commented.

Meanwhile, Kenyan website Citizen.co.ke yesterday reported that at one least one Choppies store in that country (in the town of Kisii) had bare shelves and had been paying neither suppliers nor employees or late: “Staffers who spoke anonymously to Citizen Digital have attributed the outstanding shortfall in stocks to ongoing wrangles pitting the supermarket with its suppliers, some of whom have already severed ties with the retail chain.”

The Sagaci Research View: Could Choppies be the new Nakumatt? Watch this space …

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