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Marketplace Africa: Massmart's Kuseni Dlamini on retailing during the coronavirus crisis

On the most recent episode of Marketplace Africa, CNN International's Eleni Giokos spoke to Massmart chairman Kuseni Dlamini in a remote interview about how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting shopping habits.


“It's a very different period that we are going through, and as Massmart we have to learn as we go. We really have to put the welfare and safety of our associates first who are very key in helping us to help our customers,” said Dlamini.

With lockdowns implemented across the globe, many customers rushed out to buy and hoard essential items. Dlamini advised that this stocking up is not necessary. “There is no need for people to panic buy. We have got sufficient supplies and a very robust supply chain that is efficient and that assures us that we do not run out of products," he said.

Despite the lockdowns, goods and cargo are still allowed to be transported, and since most of Massmart's goods are made locally, shoppers need not worry about stock shortages. “Well over 90% of products that are essential and that are basic goods in South Africa that we supply, we actually source them locally.”

He said this local production is important for the future, adding that he's hopeful that locally produced goods will keep the economy afloat and will be key to keeping supply chains strong. "We've got a very robust and world-class supply chain and logistics network and transportation that we are able to deal with the situation.”

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One of the problems facing Massmart is not only making sure that urban centres are well-stocked, but that rural and remote areas are also getting the products they need. Dlamini asserted that these businesses are also a priority for the company.

The coronavirus is an unprecedented crisis for all industries. Dlamini said he's positive that South Africa has the resources to weather the storm, as long as people follow health advice. “I am very confident that we have the requisite resources to manage this, but the key thing is to really limit the spread. Flatten the curve because if you fail to do that, even with the capabilities and resources we have, we can naturally be overrun.”
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