Sonae suffers another African setback

S2 Africa, a partnership between Portuguese supermarket chain Sonae and London-based investment fund Satya Capital, has shuttered the three supermarkets it had been operating in the Mozambican capital of Maputo.

According to Sonae, which had a 30% stake in the loss-making venture, it had been willing to persevere with the business but its partner pulled the plug. S2 Africa entered the Mozambican retail market in 2016 with the purchase of two Extra supermarkets from local company ADC for more than USD6 million. It later opened a third. All three operated under the Central banner.

In a statement, Sonae cited the high cost of doing business in Mozambique and “a sharp fall in household consumption” due to an economic downturn as the main factors behind S2’s underperformance. The retailer said that while it had been in talks with potential buyers, no firm offer had been received.

The demise of S2 marks Sonae’s second reverse in Lusophone Africa in less than four years – in 2015, its efforts to enter the Angolan market came to an ignominious end when local billionaire businesswoman/political scion Isabel dos Santos exited a partnership with the retailer by luring away two of its managers to work for her own retail chain.

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