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AngoMart, Anseba, Kibabo: New supermarkets continue to flood Angola

By Estelle Maussion

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Posted on June 8, 2023 09:45

 The Kero supermarket chain was privatised at the end of 2021 and taken over by two brothers from Eritrea, Kelabe and Yamane Berhe. © Kero.
The Kero supermarket chain was privatised at the end of 2021 and taken over by two brothers from Eritrea, Kelabe and Yamane Berhe. © Kero.

Once in the hands of those close to the clan of Angola’s former president José Eduardo dos Santos, the supermarket sector is undergoing a complete overhaul, and competition is in full swing.

In Luanda, the capital of Angola, the number of new supermarkets opening their doors continues to grow. Over the past two years, the mass retail sector has undergone massive expansion, marked by a proliferation of chains, the rise of previously modest players, and increased competition.

“We have seen a growth in sales and profits, but also a considerable increase in the number of operators in the market,” confirmed Marcos Paulo Bernardes, managing director of Alimenta Angola, a brand created in 2009 from the alliance between the Brazilian group Tenda Atacado and Sanzi, an Indian group that is very active in DRC.

Opening fever

The sector was embryonic in the early 2000s, following the end of the civil war that tore Angola apart for 27 years, and emerged at the turn of the 2010s on the back of high oil prices, before coming to a halt with the mid-2014 collapse in crude oil barrel prices.

Despite some rebound linked to the recovery in the price of black gold from 2017, supermarkets in 2020 suffered another blow, unsurprisingly, from the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Since then, despite inflation caused by Russias invasion of Ukraine prices rose by 27.7% in January 2022 and by a further 12.5% in January 2023, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) not forecasting a single-digit rise until 2024 the sector has resumed its rapid expansion, as demonstrated by the surge of new stores, particularly in Luanda.

The capital of the continents second-largest oil producer behind Nigeria, where more than a quarter of the countrys 30 million or so inhabitants live, is also home to 70% of the 120,000 commercial establishments in the country, according to the Ministry of Commerce quoted by the business weekly Expansão in November 2022.

Indian interests

The breakthrough of certain operators is apparent. This is particularly true of the Noble group, set up by Indian businessman Nazim Charania, which has been importing food products into Angola for more than 20 years and is also present in the DRC, Namibia, and Mozambique, among other countries.

Its AngoMart brand, run by Frenchman Hugo Moutinho, launched wholesale and semi-wholesale sales in 2014, before moving into retail sales in 2021 and investing in the construction of its network. The brand already has around 20 supermarkets, boasting a total (retail, semi-wholesale, and wholesale) of almost 70 outlets in 15 of Angolas 18 provinces.

The Newaco group’s Fresmart chain is enjoying a similar boost, with around 30 outlets in total. The group is controlled by Salim Kamani, an Indian investor who is also a partner of Charania and a third Indian player, Sajid Dhrolia, within the SNS Group. SNS is active in the mass retailing industry in the DRC via BNB (Biso na Biso).

Another group, Alimenta Angola, also backed by Indian interests, has confirmed its ambitions to develop.

“Were in an expansion phase,” says Marcos Paulo Bernardes. “We have five cash and carry shops in Luanda, which generate annual sales of around $80m, and four more are due to open soon.”

Hard discount

These three brands are not the only ones on the rise. The Kibabo group, launched in 2012 and headed by Portuguese entrepreneur Pedro Mateus, is also growing, which has raised questions about the political support it might be receiving from members of the government.

From a network of five shops in 2020, the group opened 12 supermarkets in 2021 alone, and is aiming for a total of 40 outlets, having this year started its expansion outside Luanda, in Benguela (south), the country’s second-largest city.

Two major industrial players have also entered the sector by focusing on the hard discount niche drinks producer Refriango, which has taken over the Coca-Cola franchise formerly produced by Castel, via its Arreiou chain, and the diversified family group from the southern Lobito Carrinho, whose Bem Barato shops have been on a roll since José Eduardo dos Santos successor, João Lourenço, came to power.

All these operators are competing with the historic market leader, the South African group Shoprite, which remains a heavyweight with more than 30 shops and a presence in the countrys main provinces. Having already withdrawn from Nigeria in 2021 and having announced its withdrawal from the DRC in November 2022, Shoprite must react if it is not to fall rapidly behind.


As for the Anseba group, which has been active in the food sector for several years and is run by two brothers from Eritrea, Kelabe and Yamane Berhe, it made headlines at the end of 2021 when it took over the Kero supermarket chain, created by the three strongmen of the Dos Santos era, Generals Dino and Kopelipa, as well as the former head of Sonangol and former vice-president Manuel Vicente.

Kero came under state control as part of the Lourenço administrations fight against corruption and misappropriation of public funds, and was subsequently privatised following a tender won by Anseba. The outcome was criticised by one of the unsuccessful competitors, Alimenta Angola, and widely commented on because of suspected links between the winner and senior Angolan politicians.

The buyers subsequently announced that they would operate the 10-supermarket network via a dedicated entity known as Accord. For the time being, sales have left something to be desired.

The future of another chain from the Dos Santos period, Candando, launched by the former presidents daughter, Isabel dos Santos, and comprising six shops, is also on hold pending the network’s privatisation, which has been nationalised and placed under the control of the Institut de gestion des actifs et des participations de l’État (Igape).

Modernisation underway

While some brands are losing ground  including Jumbo, the countrys oldest supermarket owned by Gefi, a company of the ruling Movimiento popular de libertação de Angola (MPLA) others are trying to hold their own despite the growing competition. These include Angoalissar, which has many cash and carry stores, Deskontão from the Score Distribuição group, and Maxi, a brand owned by the Portuguese Teixeira Duarte group.

Carlos Rosado de Carvalho, professor of economics at the Catholic University of Angola, summarises the industry: “Despite the populations purchasing power being under pressure and the middle classes oscillating between the attraction of modern supermarkets and the very attractive prices of traditional markets, a movement towards modernising the mass retailing channels is underway, which all competitors must take into account.”

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