Shopping levels at the Massmart-owned Makro store in Springfield, Durban, have returned to pre-July unrest levels just after a week of reopening, Massmart told Moneyweb on Monday.
The store, which was closed for almost five months after being ransacked and damaged, resumed operations on December 13 welcoming back both customers and employees.
JSE-listed wholesale and retail group Massmart was one of the hardest-hit during the riots that spread across KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng in July. The unrest followed the arrest of former president Jacob Zuma.
The Makro Springfield mega store, along with the Makro Pietermaritzburg outlet and two Massmart distribution centres in Riverhorse Valley and Cato Ridge in KwaZulu-Natal, bore the brunt of the impact on the group. However, a few of its Game stores were also affected by looting.
In a sales update posted in early November, Massmart reported that unrest-related looting and destruction resulted in about R1.3 billion in stock losses, the majority of which was seen in KwaZulu-Natal.
Overall, Massmart said the events of July resulted in the company losing about R650 million as the South African Special Risk Insurance Association (Sasria) did not cover the full extent of the wholesaler’s losses, which it estimated to be around R2.5 billion.
Massmart’s senior vice president of group corporate affairs Brian Leroni told Moneyweb that the Makro Springfield store has received a lot of support from the community since having to close its doors for repairs and restocking.
“Following the damage caused to the store during the unrest we have received regular enquires from our customers, particularly B2B customers, regarding the reopening of the store,” Leroni said.
“This has clearly converted into good levels of shopping support in the reopened store, which have reached pre-unrest levels.”
Despite suffering severe damage and losses because of the riots, the group says it has not let go of any of the store’s employees.
Massmart, which also owns the Builders Warehouse DIY chain, said it has learnt from the events of July and has implemented a variety of measures that will contribute to tightening security at its stores going into 2022.
With regards to its Makro Pietermaritzburg store, which was not only looted but devastated by arson, the group said the store is currently being rebuilt and is set to reopen in 2022. However, it remains unclear of the exact date of the reopening.
“Our Makro Pietermaritzburg store, which involves an entire rebuild is scheduled to open next year … [but] it’s difficult to say [when] at this stage,” said Leroni.
“Our aim is to open it as quickly as possible in the context of it being a total rebuild.”