Working Paper
The expansion of regional supermarket chains

Changing models of retailing and the implications for local supplier capabilities in South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

Over the past two decades, southern African countries have experienced rapid growth in the number and spread of supermarkets. Several factors have been attributed to this growth, including increasing urbanization, increased per capita income, the rise of the middle class, economies of scale and scope, and transport economies. The format and location of supermarkets have also evolved over the years, moving away from serving the traditional high-end affluent consumers in urban areas to successfully penetrating new markets in low-income rural communities, including through more efficient procurement and distribution systems. This spread into rural areas and the rapid proliferation of supermarkets generally has given rise to some important consequences for competitive rivalry between grocery retail outlets, as well as for local suppliers who want to participate in supermarket value chains in the southern African region.