ZIMBABWE’S wholesale and retail sector is projected to register a slower growth rate of 4,2% this year compared to past recent years, due to the El Niño conditions among other challenges, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) has said.

This was revealed by CZR president Denford Mutashu at the top 200 retail and wholesale value chain leaders’ awards for 2023 on Friday last week.

“The wholesale and retail sector is projected to register a slower growth rate of 4,2% this year, which is lower compared to the growth rates registered in the past recent years,” he said.

“This is mainly due to the El Niño conditions which were experienced this year, leading to drought, water shortages and crop failures. A total of 7,7 million people, representing 51% of the population, will require food assistance this year, and this will also pose significant challenges to aggregate demand.

“I urge all players in the wholesale and retail sector to continue identifying innovative ways to enhance their resilience and agility. Some of the strategies may include diversifying supplier networks, investing in data-driven inventory management and forging new partnerships with local producers and distributors.”

Mutushu welcomed the crafting of the new Industrialisation Development Policy by the Industry and Commerce ministry, which is targeting to grow the manufacturing sector by 2% per annum.

Keep Reading

The industrial policy is also targeting to expand manufacturing value-addition in gross domestic product to 20% by 2030 and increase manufactured exports by 10% per annum.

“As wholesalers and retailers, we are excited to play a pivotal role in supporting these noble goals. By strengthening our partnerships with local manufacturers, we can help drive greater market access and distribution of domestically-produced goods,” he noted.

“Furthermore, we can leverage our extensive retail networks to showcase and promote Zimbabwean-made products. This presents a unique opportunity for us to also contribute to the long-term industrialisation and economic diversification of our nation.”

The CZR president also believes that the abolishment of the 10% premium on the official exchange rates between foreign currency and the local currency, would help remove the prevailing price distortions.

“Going forward, I call upon all our members to continue practising responsible pricing as it is a sustainable business approach,” he said.

“The confederation also continues to call on authorities to foster full market liberalisation of the exchange rate system to ensure full price discovery and to also ensure that the foreign exchange system is adequately funded in order to meet the needs of retailers and wholesalers as well as other stakeholders.”

He noted that sustainability remains at the core of the confederation’s aspiration for all players in the wholesale and retail sector, with emphasis on environmental, social and governance priorities. This includes addressing the critical issue of climate change and managing collective environmental footprint.

“As we continue to strengthen our social impact, we should also remain steadfast in upholding the highest standards of corporate governance, transparency and ethical decision-making.

“By doing so, we do not only strengthen the resilience of our individual businesses, but also contribute to the overall prosperity and well-being of the communities that we serve,” he said.

The awards ran under the theme Recognising Innovative and Resilient Value Chain Leaders for Economic Development.

Mutashu also indicated that the value chain leaders, who were honoured at the event had demonstrated an unwavering commitment to not only adaptability, but to innovation as well as sheer determination.

Through their visionary leadership, they transformed their businesses into agile, responsive and customer-centric organisations. Some embraced digital transformation to streamline their supply chains and improve their inventory management, while also providing their customers with enhanced customer experiences, he added.