The chairman of Sefalana board of directors Dr Ponatshego Kedikilwe says the economic environment in Botswana during the past year was very challenging which made doing business very difficult than years before. “Our performance during the year was not as favourable as we had hoped, and this was largely as a result of reduced level of spending in the economy and an increase in unemployment levels,” said the former Vice President in the group’s 2016 annual report. He said other businesses in the sector also experienced the same challenges. According to Kedikilwe, the group was secured by its diversification which helped the overall group results with the Namibian business performing well. Kedikilwe said they can remain hopeful that the economy recovers quickly and that the trading conditions improve so that the group goes back to its historical trends. Moving into the next financial year Kedikilwe said they are focused on further strengthening their position as a modern, profitable business rooted in fulfilling the needs of the customers. “We do this through building on our infrastructure and capabilities with a particular focus on innovation and evolving with our customers in the way in which they shop,” he said.
He said the group is continuing to seek opportunities for further expansion, both in Botswana and regionally, growing market share for shareholders. The group has recently entered into the South African market and Lesotho and this is expected to enhance its revenues going forward. Managing Director, Chandra Chauhan said they have completed Rights Issue programme in December 2016 which was significantly oversubscribed. He said the proceeds of the Rights Issue (P351 million) have been partly utilised for the Lesotho transaction and a large part of the balance of funds will be used to finance expansion plans in South Africa. “This investment is expected to significantly enhance the profitability of the group. We believe that the model we have structured for our entry into South Africa will help mitigate risk where possible, but will also allow us to have a significant presence in a relatively short period of time,” said Chauhan. Chauhan said they are currently evaluating other countries in the region for possible expansion into them.