Storm Emma, which paralysed the country just before Easter and sparked panic sales of bread, has been credited with helping to drive "significant turnover growth" at BWG Group, the owner of Mace and Spar in the Republic.
Spar South Africa (SSA), the majority shareholder of BWG, has reported interim results to the Johannesburg stock exchange that show sales at BWG rose 2.9 per cent to €730 million in the six months to the end of March.
“The business recorded significant turnover growth in the month of March, not only impacted by the earlier Easter, but also driven by the major storm weather that closed down large portions of Ireland and the United Kingdom as consumers bought in large quantities of food and beverages,” said SSA.
The group's network of more than 1,300 stores across the group recorded after-tax profits of more than €15 million, the results show. SSA said that all of BWG's brands in Ireland, including Spar, Mace, XL and Londis, recorded solid growth. Its BWG Wine & Spirits and BWG Foodservice brands grew at 11.8 per cent and 18.6 per cent respectively.
The British-based Gilletts group that is owned by BWG recorded growth of 7.4 per cent, and business in its Appleby Westward division in Britain declined due to the loss of two independent retailer groups. Overall, BWG’s British division, which comprises more than 11 per cent of the group, reported revenues down 2.5 per cent in euro, due to the continued weakness of sterling.
Its €14 million acquisition of 4 Aces Wholesale, which gives it a supply line into Gala stores, received regulatory approval and closed in July.
SSA bought an 80 per cent share in BWG in 2014, with the remainder owned by its Irish management team, led by chief executive and former Ibec president Leo Crawford.