The government has reacted angrily to the sentiments made by one of the country’s biggest supermarkets, OK Zimbabwe.
Last week, OK Zimbabwe warned of the imminent death of large retail chains (supermarkets) due to ‘unfair’ competition from tuck shops.
The retail chain said supermarkets itself included are not short goods to sell, but low on customers as shoppers are at the “tuck shops.
However, in response the government says big shops, like OK Zimbabwe should not cry foul but be innovative to be able to counter the threat.
Ministry of Finance and Economic Development permanent Secretary George Guvamatanga said OK Zimbabwe has bad management which he would fire if he was its board.
Speaking at the ZEDCON conference currently underway in Victoria Falls, Guvamatanga said the government is not against tuckshops.
The informal shops are said to be now dominating the retail space at the expense of formal retailers including supermarkets like OK Zimbabwe.
As noted, small traders are well stocked and more affordable owing to the fact that they sell exclusively in US dollars as well as that they do not pay taxes.
Larger supermarkets, instead, are forced by the law to price their stock using the official exchange rate, which is lower as compared to the black market.
Unlike tuck shops, supermarkets also pay taxes, rates, and other regulatory fees.
According to OK Zimbabwe, which has over 60 outlets nationwide, most supermarkets are battling for survival.
OK Zimbabwe’s business covers three major categories, comprising groceries, basic clothing and textiles and houseware products.
The groceries category includes dry groceries, butchery, delicatessen, takeaway, bakery, provisions and fruit and vegetable sections.
“It has been an interesting watch as perhaps; most formal retailers now are battling for survival.
“The rise of the unregulated informal operators, who are mostly arbitraging, has caused more headaches than good for the formal guys like OK Zimbabwe, TM Pick n Pay, Gain Cash & Carry and so many more.
“This has created a whole new spate of dangerously unhealthy competition,” OK Zimbabwe said.
The company said this in a press advertorial for its “DollarDeal” promotion, which seeks to drive sales by offering customers bargain deals for US$1.