Rmillion Year ended
30 September
Year ended
30 September
Change (%)
Turnover* 109 477.1 101 018.0 8.4%
Operating profit 2 978.9 2 779.3 7.2%
Earnings per share (cents) 1 124.1 948.9 18.5%
Headline earnings per share (cents) 1 129.1 965.7 16.9%
Normalised diluted headline earnings per share** (cents) 1 160.6 1 055.7 9.9%
Dividend per share (cents) 800.0 729.0 9.7%
Net asset value per share (cents) 3 879.9 3 692.2 5.1%
* Turnover represents revenue from the sale of merchandise
** Headline earnings adjusted for expected future profits and foreign exchange losses on financial liabilities, and business acquisition costs


The SPAR Group Ltd (“the group”) reported an excellent performance for the financial year under review, with turnover increasing by 8.4% to R109.5 billion, against the backdrop of markets that remain tough in all regions of operations. Through focused margin management and tight cost and efficiency control, the group increased operating profit by 7.2% to R3.0 billion. The group’s diluted headline earnings per share increased by 9.9% to 1160.6 cents per share on a normalised basis.

  • SPAR Southern Africa delivered solid growth of 8.0% in wholesale turnover in a competitive environment. The core SPAR business grew turnover by 7.0% to R57.6 billion and was again supported by strong marketing initiatives which continued to attract cash-strapped consumers. The TOPS liquor brand again delivered an impressive result with wholesale sales growth of 17.6%. Combined food and liquor wholesale turnover growth recorded growth of 8.1%. Despite a generally weak building materials sector, Build It increased sales by 6.9% to R8.0 billion, underpinned by effective marketing and improved retailer loyalty. The SPAR Southern Africa store network increased to 2 349 stores, with 169 new stores opened. The group completed 298 (2018: 276) store upgrades across all brands.
  • The BWG Group in Ireland has once again reported a strong financial performance with euro-denominated turnover growth increasing by 6.2% to €1.5 billion. The result was positively impacted by acquisitions, in particular, Corrib Foods business, in November 2018. Adjusting for these new businesses, comparable turnover increased by 2.2% in a market with negative price inflation. All retail brands reported positive sales growth. The Foodservice business reported impressive double-digit turnover growth and has become a significant part of the Irish business, while MACE, XL and SPAR retail brands all delivered turnover growths of over 4%. During the year the business implemented a number of logistics and supply chain initiatives which have ensured cost-efficient deliveries, despite increased labour rates. BWG Group opened 60 new stores and finished the financial year with 1 360 stores.

    SPAR Switzerland’s wholesale business reported growth of 1.2% in CHF terms, reflecting strong trading from upgraded retailer-owned stores. While the second half saw an improved performance, operating profit for the full year remains impacted by the aggressive marketing initiatives in the first half. Measured in local currency, the turnover growth has remained negative but has improved on the prior year as the corporate stores disposed of are removed from the comparative base. The market remained challenging but the brand is gaining positive support as initiatives continued to gain traction. SPAR Switzerland had a total store network of 322 stores the at financial year end, adding 26 new stores during the financial year under review.


The SPAR Group’s turnover increased by 8.4% to R109.5 billion (2018: R101.0 billion), with 32.1% (2018: 31.9%) of total turnover now generated in foreign currency. The core SPAR Southern African business reported turnover growth of 8.0% in a tough market that remains highly competitive. The turnover of the BWG Group increased by 6.2% in euro-currency terms. The depreciation of the rand against the euro over this period contributed to the 10.4% overall increase in reported turnover from the Irish business to R24.8 billion (2018: R22.5 billion). SPAR Switzerland contributed turnover of R10.4 billion (2018: R9.8 billion) and despite sales still declining in local currency, it is encouraging that the rate of decline has slowed to -1.5% as new business and improved retail offerings start being felt.

Gross margin on a restated basis remained flat at 10.7%. SPAR Southern Africa reported a slight decrease in its comparable gross margin to 8.9% which was largely attributable to dilutive impact of the very strong liquor sales growth. The BWG Group and SPAR Switzerland, which both operate in the higher-margin convenience sector, reported comparable gross margins of 13.0% (2018: 12.6%) and 17.6% (2018: 18.2%) respectively. The former business was positively impacted by the recent acquisitions, including Corrib Foods, which have been margin enhancing, while the slight decline in the Swiss gross margin was attributed to the aggressive marketing undertaken in the first half of the year.

Group operating expenses were again closely managed during the year, increasing by 7.6% as both the South African and Swiss businesses kept cost growth below the levels of turnover increases. The South African business reported an increase in expenses of 6.8%, the result of tightly controlled costs. Costs rose in the Swiss business by 5.0% and continued to report the impacts of management initiatives and the disposal, or closure, of corporate stores in the prior year. The BWG Group’s expenses increased by 12.0% but were significantly impacted by the new acquisitions. However, even after adjusting for these costs the increase continued to reflect the impacts of rising depreciation charges and higher staff costs.

Profit before tax has increased by 12.9% year-on-year to R2.8 billion (2018: R2.5 billion), but was impacted by a significant expected future profits adjustment of R139.5 million recognised in the prior year for the financial liability to purchase the Irish minority interests. The corresponding adjustment in the current year was a much reduced R34.6 million.

Profit after tax improved 18.4% to R2 163.4 million (2018: R1 827.2 million), due to a lower effective group tax rate which was impacted by a tax credit of R52.7 million recognised in Switzerland as a consequence of the announced reduction of federal tax rates to 14.5% from 18.0% which resulted in a remeasurement of the deferred tax liability.

Headline earnings per share increased by 16.9% to 1 129.1 cents (2018: 965.7 cents). The more representative normalised headline earnings per share of 1 166.3 cents increased by 9.7% from 1 063.2 cents in the prior year. The board approved a final dividend of 800 cents per share (2018: 729 cents per share), an increase of 9.7% year-on-year.

Cash generated from operations totalled R1.8 billion (2018: R4.0 billion) and reflected a substantial reduction over the prior year due to increased working capital levels. This was attributed to materially reduced levels of trade payables due to payment cut-offs. More specifically, during the prior year, the last day of the reporting year was a Sunday and payments would have been delayed to the next business day. The SPAR Group’s cash flow from investing activities showed an outflow of R1 943.2 million (2018: R1 453.3 million), including net total capital expenditure of R1 059.8 million (2018: R772.3 million). The spend in the plant and equipment categories are largely comparable and the increase is attributable to the purchase of a leasehold property by the Swiss business.

FINANCIAL overview: cash flow

During the year the Irish group concluded the acquisition of Corrib Foods for R190.4 million. In addition, the group also purchased fifteen retail stores. The group raised borrowings of €40 million which was made available to the Polish investment holding company. These funds were subsequently loaned to Polish retail group, Piotr i Pawel, which the group has subsequently purchased in a post balance sheet event. Taking into account the impact of a net R116.8 million outflow to reduce borrowings and a further R110.1 million for share repurchases, the group closed the year in a net overdrawn cash position of (R67.4) million (2018: R1 598.2 million).

capital expenditure

The budgeted capital expenditure for the year ahead in Southern Africa, amounting to R411.8 million (2018: R383.4 million) is expected to be maintained at these levels as no further property acquisitions are planned and construction plans for the previously announced distribution facilities have been placed on hold. In Ireland, budgeted capital spend of €30.0 million (2019: €32.0 million) will continue to address a wide range of retail development commitments, while SPAR Switzerland has CHF22.0 million (2019: CHF25.0 million) budgeted for further retail investments and additional improvements to own facilities and infrastructure. It is again anticipated that the foreign subsidiaries will fund all capital expenditure from their own cash flows.


SPAR Southern Africa

The turnover of SPAR Southern Africa increased 8.0% to R74.3 billion (2018: R68.8 billion). The result includes the S Buys pharmaceutical business acquired in the 2017 financial year. Excluding S Buys, the comparable SPAR business increased turnover by 8.0% (2018: 5.3%), reflecting the rising price inflation experienced over the latter part of the year and strong marketing initiatives which continued to attract cash-strapped consumers. This turnover result was once again boosted by exceptionally strong liquor turnover growth of 17.6% and a pleasing increase in the building materials wholesale business of 6.9%. The latter result being achieved against a weak building sector performance and subdued consumer appetite to spend on home building and renovations. This is again attributable to increased retailer loyalty and the results of strong marketing investments. Wholesale SPAR turnover grew 7.0% to R57.6 billion and continued to confirm the independent retailers’ support of the group’s voluntary trading model. Combined food and liquor wholesale turnover growth was recorded at 8.1%.and should be viewed against internally calculated food inflation of 3.1%. This inflation measure has increased from 1.9% measured at half year and the 1.4% reported in 2018.

Case volumes handled through the seven distribution centres continued to reflect the constrained market but increased 5.3% to 243.9 million cases (2018: increased 3.2% to 231.7 million cases). This positive volume growth reflects the strong like-for-like growth experienced at retail and the impressive liquor sales increase.

The retail turnover of SPAR stores increased 5.5% to R84.1 billion (2018: R79.7 billion) and recorded like-for-like retail growth of 4.6%. The combined food and liquor retail sales, which allow for a better industry comparison, increased by 6.6%.

The SPAR-branded private-label products continued to offer real consumer value and quality and remain a shopping differentiator for our retailers. Total private-label wholesale sales reported in 2019 increased 10.1% to R13.4 billion. This represents 23.3% of all SPAR wholesale turnover, meaning that almost one in four turnover rands is spent on a private label product.

The group maintained the strong organic growth focus to drive retailer profitability and thereby ensure the sustainability of the business model. To this end, 181 SPAR stores (2018: 170 stores) were refurbished during the period to ensure they continued to provide retail offerings that exceed consumer demand. In addition, total retail space recorded solid growth of 2.0% (2018: 3.8%) and is reflective of the expected annual space increase. A net 23 stores were opened during the year, bringing the total SPAR store numbers to 960 by 30 September 2019.

The retail turnover of TOPS at SPAR increased by an impressive 14.5% to R12.8 billion (2018: R11.2 billion), as ongoing, attractive marketing initiatives and the refresh of the brand image won consumer spend. Like-for-like turnover growth reached an impressive 11.3% for the period. Wholesale turnover outstripped the retail performance and grew by 17.6% to R7.6 billion (2018: R6.5 billion). This was achieved through concerted efforts by the wholesale divisions to recover retailer purchase loyalty. During the period, the TOPS at SPAR store network increased by 48 stores on a net basis to 822 stores, while 47 stores were revamped. The total retail liquor space increased 6.7% during the year.

Build it’s retail turnover growth increased by 5.7% for the year, higher than the building sector’s calculated wholesale inflation of 4.4%, and against the backdrop of a challenging trading environment where consumers have restricted ability to spend on home renovations and building. Like-for-like store growth was 3.0%. The group’s buying teams again drove increased retailer loyalty through improved product pricing. The influence of cement, which at a sales contribution of 26%, is a significant component of Build it’s overall sales result, again  impacted turnover, as the continued oversupply has resulted in low category inflation of 1.5%. over the year. Retail activity was negatively influenced by the economic consequences of the severe drought experienced in parts of South Africa and Namibia. At wholesale level, turnover increased 6.9% to R8.0 billion (2018: R7.5 billion). Build it’s house brand and imports showed solid growth of 8.9% for the year. At the year-end, Build it’s store network totalled 390 stores, having opened a net fourteen stores during the year.

The S Buys pharmaceutical wholesale business was acquired in 2018 and provides a full pharmaceutical wholesale service for the Pharmacy at SPAR retailers. Despite accounting for a significant portion of the sales growth experienced, the Pharmacy at SPAR wholesale business represents 22.2% of total sales. Wholesale business with independent pharmacies, hospitals and doctors represents a further 38%. The balance of the turnover is derived from the Scriptwise Division which handles the dispensing of speciality pharmaceutical scripts. The S Buys Group reported turnover of R1 035.5 million for the period (2018: R930.3 million), which amounted to a strong growth of 11.3%. This performance was driven by impressive increases of 14.7% in the Scriptwise business and 11.1% in wholesale sales. The profitability of the business was, however, negatively impacted by increased distribution costs as economies of scale are not yet being achieved. Transport arrangements are receiving urgent management attention to address these cost increases.

The Pharmacy at SPAR business continued its growth trajectory adding 31 new stores and reporting an increase in retail turnover of 35.1% to R1 298.3 million. The retail organic growth was a respectable 12.6% and continued to reflect the marketing and innovation benefits being enjoyed by these retailers. At the end of the year there were 120 Pharmacy at SPAR stores.

SPAR Ireland

The BWG Group again delivered a strong financial result and reported euro-denominated turnover growth of 6.2% to €1.5 billion. This number was boosted by the recent business acquisitions. The 4 Aces wholesale business purchased in May 2018 contributed 1.9%, while Corrib Foods, acquired in November 2019, added 2.1% of the growth. If adjusted for, the comparable group grew by 2.2%. Exchange rate weakness over the reporting year added 4.2% and resulted in revenue growth of 10.4% to R24.8 billion (2018: R22.5 billion). Inflation measures over the financial year indicate that the grocery food and non-alcoholic drinks category again  declined 0.8%, while alcohol and tobacco increased by 3.1%. (Source: Irish Central Statistics). The solid turnover growth in the current year was negatively impacted by the extraordinary high sales performance in the previous year when extreme weather conditions and the above average warm summer brought significant sales benefits to the convenience sector which were not repeated this year.

Against the subdued economic backdrop where Brexit concerns sapped consumer confidence, the hospitality sector remained strong and boosted sales in this category by 41.5%, while the foodservice business also reported strong growth of 55.5%.Compared with last year, all retail brands recorded positive growth, with the MACE brand increasing turnover to 5.1%, XL growing by 4.4% and SPAR reporting growth of 4.0%. It was just as pleasing to report that all retail brands reported positive like-for-like growth.

The group’s supply chain infrastructure was further enhanced during the year with the implementation of a nationwide re-routing project, the completion of the consolidated delivery plan and the commissioning of the new cross dock facility to serve the greater Dublin county. These logistics projects  have all contributed to keep the delivery cost per case down, despite significant labour rate increases.

In South West England, BWG Group’s Appleby Westward business reported a decrease of -0.9% in sterling-denominated turnover as a result of the loss of a large national supply account. The region was also impacted by the extraordinary weather in the prior year which caused abnormal sales which were not repeated in the current year. This business represents approximately 11.2% of the consolidated BWG Group.

BWG Group’s margin improved to 13.0% (2018: 12.6%) due to the new business acquisitions which service the higher margin food service sector. Operating profit grew 19.4% to R686.1 million (2018: R574.4 million) while profit before tax increased 22.2% to R657.2 million (2018: R537.9 million).

The total number of stores across BWG Group’s store formats at 30 September 2019 was 1 360 with 60 new stores added during the year.

SPAR Switzerland

The region reported turnover of R10.4 billion for the year (2018: R9.8 billion). Operating profit decreased, however, by 33.2% to R83.3 million (2018: R124.6 million). This was almost exclusively attributed to the aggressive marketing initiatives during the first half of the year which failed to deliver the expected turnover. Management ceased the extent of the price investment in the second half of the year but were not able to recover the expense incurred. However, the business did benefit from the announced reduction in federal taxes and this allowed for a remeasurement of the deferred tax account. This adjustment resulted in a positive tax charge of R41.1 million. As a result, the profit after tax decreased by 34.6% to R43,9 million (2018: R67.1 million). This result was further adversely impacted by finance costs, including foreign exchange impacts, relating to the valuation of the financial liability for the minority purchase obligation of R59.6 million (2018: R17.2 million).

The turnover performance of SPAR Switzerland continued to be negatively impacted by low economic growth in the retail market. While minor inflationary trends have been noted, with prices of food and non-alcoholic beverage prices decreasing by 0.3%, alcoholic beverages and tobacco being 1.6% higher, and a slight appreciation of the Swiss franc against the euro, these have been insufficient to slow the appeal of cross-border shopping that exists in Switzerland. SPAR Switzerland reported a decline in local currency measured turnover of -1.5%, which was an improvement on the -5.1% reported last year. This result is still largely impacted by the corporate stores as those sold to independent retailers are still included in the prior year and the benefit will be recognised once these are excluded from the base. If these stores were adjusted for in the base, the retail stores performance would be flat on the prior year. SPAR Switzerland launched 26 new stores during the year, including a large group of 19 stores in the west of the country that are now being serviced. At the end of the year there were 322 (2018: 315) corporate and independent retailers serviced.

The cash-and-carry business, trading as TopCC, again reported a disappointing decline in turnover for the year of 0.4% which continues to be impacted by the business closures in the Swiss restaurant and hospitality sectors. The group is investigating further upgrade opportunities in the fresh offerings of these stores, as very satisfactory sales improvements have been recorded in stores once upgraded.

Warehouse turnover increased by a positive 0.5% for the year, reflecting the positive growth that is being experienced by the independent SPAR retailers. Previously implemented cost-focused initiatives, including store delivery frequency, fleet optimisation as well as store ordering initiatives have all positively contributed to improvements in logistics efficiencies, productivity and overall cost measures.


Ireland (€) Switzerland (CHF)
2019 2018 2019 2018
Year end rate 16.51 16.46 15.18 14.44
Average rate 16.17 15.56 14.42 13.40


At year-end the group had external banking facilities in South Africa totalling R3.6 billion of which R2.0 billion (2018: Rnil) was drawn down. Committed facilities totalled R2.4 billion while the group had access to R1.2 billion of uncommitted facilities.

The BWG Group has access to €60.0 million of revolving credit and overdraft facilities.

SPAR Switzerland has confirmed credit lines and facilities of CHF56.0 million.

The increase in net borrowings from the prior year was largely the result of materially reduced levels of trade payables due to payment cut-offs.

The net borrowing position at year-end:

Rmillion 2019 2018
Long-term borrowings 4 635.3 3 976.5
Current portion of long-term borrowings 529.5 433.6
Bank overdraft 1 553.7 8.7
Total borrowings 6 718.5 4 418.8
Less: cash and cash equivalents (1 250.9) (1 377.6)
Net borrowings 5 467.6 3 041.2
Increase/(decrease) in funding 2 426.4 (186.5)


A summary of the group’s approved capital commitments as at 30 September 2019 is set out below:

  2019 2018
Rmillion Contracted Approved not contracted Total Contracted Approved not  contracted Total
Southern Africa 193.4 22.2 215.6 80.4 93.4 173.8
Ireland 46.4 69.5 115.9 89.4 34.2 123.6
Switzerland 18.2 18.2 30.7 15.9 46.6
Total 258.0 91.7 349.7 200.5 143.5 344.0


The identification of sustainability and financial risks for the group forms part of the enterprise risk management process. During the course of the year this was again updated by management and these risks were reviewed by the internal audit team. The group is typically exposed to inflation, interest rate, liquidity and credit risks, the latter specifically impacting trade receivables. No additional risks were identified and management are satisfied that these risks are being continuously and proactively managed.


The annual financial statements have been prepared in accordance with the framework concepts and the measurement and recognition requirements of International Financial Reporting Standards, the SAICA Financial Reporting Guides as issued by the Accounting Practices Committee and Financial Reporting Pronouncements as issued by the Financial Reporting Standards Council and the requirements of the Companies Act No., 71 of 2008, as amended. The group has considered and adopted all new standards, interpretations and amendments to existing standards that are effective as at the year end.

The annual financial statements have been prepared using accounting policies that comply with IFRS The JSE’s thematic review for compliance with IFRS 9 and 15 was also considered in preparing the 2019 integrated report. In preparation for IFRS 16, the group assessed the impact resulting from the adoption of this standard. Refer to note 1 of the summarised consolidated financial statements for more detail.


The board has formally considered the going concern assertion of the group and is of the opinion that it remains appropriate for the forthcoming financial year.

Mark Godfrey
Group Financial Director

12 November 2019


Rmillion 2019 Restated 
2016 2015
Revenue – sale of merchandise 109 477 101 018 97 209 92 227 74 060
Operating profit 2 979 2 779 2 576 2 577 2 294
Other non-operating items (28) (144) (55) (25) (131)
Interest income 186 169 194 99 29
Interest expense (202) (193) (177) (110) (122)
Finance costs including foreign exchange gains and losses (142) (137) (64) (107) (108)
Share of equity-accounted associate (losses)/profit (11) (10) (8) 5 (4)
Profit before taxation 2 782 2 464 2 466 2 439 1 958
Income tax expense (618) (637) (645) (624) (537)
Profit for the year attributable to ordinary shareholders 2 164 1 827 1 821 1 815 1 421
Remeasurement of retirement funds net of tax (395) 131 364 (190) (12)
Remeasurement of post-retirement medical aid net of tax (2) 8 (6) (3)
Gain/(loss) on cash flow hedge net of tax 1 (4) (28)
Exchange differences from translation of foreign operations 76 132 42 (29) 21
Total comprehensive income 1 843 2 091 2 231 1 562 1 427
Property, plant and equipment 7 184 6 652 6 277 6 160 3 221
Goodwill and intangible assets 5 064 4 752 4 439 4 008 3 281
Loans and investments 1 620 1 454 1 094 831 138
Operating lease receivables 269 208 125 101 97
Deferred taxation asset 75 14 21 37 34
Current assets 19 767 18 166 16 880 16 807 12 365
Assets classified as held for sale 74 10 141 161 194
Total assets 34 053 31 256 28 977 28 105 19 330
Equity and liabilities
Capital and reserves 7 467 7 110 6 560 5 628 3 328
Deferred taxation liability 297 413 361 291 215
Post-employment benefit obligations 1 268 788 940 1 392 447
Financial liability 1 521 2 043 1 700 1 568 730
Long-term borrowings 5 010 4 531 4 686 4 700 2 368
Long-term provisions 8 29 42 59
Other non-current financial liabilities 3 3 5
Operating lease payables 298 231 142 116 109
Current liabilities 18 181 16 108 14 541 14 351 12 133
Total equity and liabilities 34 053 31 256 28 977 28 105 19 330
Cash flows from operating activities before dividends 1 127 3 334 2 663 2 700 2 281
Dividends paid (1 431) (1 358) (1 252) (1 153) (1 012)
Cash flows from investing activities (1 943) (1 453) (1 496) (1 614) (978)
Cash flows from financing activities 558 (428) 4 1 667 162
Net movement in cash and cash equivalents (1 689) 95 (81) 1 600 453

Ratios and statistics

2019 Restated 
2016 2015
Number of ordinary shares (net of treasury shares) millions 192.5 192.5 192.5 192.5 173.1
Headline earnings per share cents 1 129.1 965.7 952.8 1 020.0 835.5
Normalised headline earnings per share cents 1 166.3 1 063.2 976.0 1 033.0 940.0
Dividends per share cents 800.0 729.0 675.0 665.0 632.0
Dividend cover multiple 1.41 1.32 1.41 1.53 1.45
Net asset value per share cents 3 879.9 3 692.2 3 407.0 3 131.7 1 922.6
Gross margin % 10.7 10.7 10.7 9.3 8.7
Operating profit margin % 2.7 2.8 2.7 2.8 3.1
Headline earnings Rmillion 2 173.0 1 859.6 1 834.7 1 832.9 1 446.3
Return on equity % 29.7 26.7 29.9 40.5 44.7
Return on net assets % 39.9 39.1 39.3 45.8 68.9
Number of corporate office and distribution centre employees at year-end 8 556 7 204 6 786 6 387 4 724
Market price per share
– at year-end cents 19 101 18 413 16 708 19 222 18 500
– highest cents 21 072 22 700 20 499 21 971 20 617
– lowest cents 16 418 16 553 15 018 16 161 12 142
Number of share transactions 189 244 559 330 542 335 499 716 399 399
Number of shares traded millions 189.2 145.5 203.8 178.2 132.7
Number of shares traded as a percentage of total issued shares % 98.3 75.5 105.8 92.6 76.7
Value of shares traded Rmillion 35 956.0 35 454.1 35 789.6 34 793.2 23 190.3
Earnings yield at year-end % 6.1 5.8 5.8 5.4 5.1
Dividend yield at year-end % 4.2 4.0 4.0 3.5 3.4
Price earnings ratio at year-end multiple 16.4 17.3 17.1 18.6 19.7
Market capitalisation at year-end net of treasury shares Rmillion 36 765 35 454 32 164 37 004 32 027
Market capitalisation to shareholders’ equity at year-end multiple 4.9 5.0 4.9 6.6 9.6
* Refer to restated Note 9.