Simbisa: Zimbabweans spent more on fast foods in the March quarter

(pic: Structure & Design)

Zimbabweans spent more on fast foods in the first three months of this year than they did over the same period in 2020, despite COVID-19 restrictions reducing customer numbers.

Simbisa, the country’s biggest fast foods company which runs Chicken Inn, says its customers spent 32% more on average in US dollar terms, reflecting increased USD usage in the economy. In Zimbabwe dollar terms, the average spend was 417%, beating inflation.

“Whilst year-to-date customer counts were down 16.7% versus prior year, with the Zimbabwe operations trading on 25% less counter hours than at full capacity, Average Spend increased by 56% year-on-year in real terms, driving the growth in revenue,” Simbisa says in its latest trading update for the three months up to March, the company’s third-quarter.

This was despite lower numbers of customers in fast foods courts, mainly due to COVID-19 lockdowns that affected business.

“This (lockdowns) had a significant impact on counter trading hours; the Zimbabwe operations traded on 45% less counter hours than would have been realised when trading at normal operating hours. Furthermore, seating capacity was reduced to 50%,” says Simbisa.

“Resultantly, customer counts were down 34.3% in Q3 FY21 compared to the prior year. Footfall has recovered since trading restrictions were relaxed from March; the business grew customer counts by 12% in March 2021 versus prior year.”

Simbisa opened seven new outlets since July 2020

However, the lower numbers inside the stores were countered by customers using delivery services, which saw a sharp rise in demand as people ordered in.

“Revenue was also supported by a higher real average spend, a result of increased delivery contribution with the number of deliveries in the quarter increasing by 67% versus prior year.”

Simbisa opened a new Spur restaurant at Sam Levy’s Village, part of a plan by the company to milk the high-end market where disposable incomes appear to be more resilient. It was the seventh new Simbisa outlet since July.

“Zimbabwe opened the inaugural Spur restaurant on 24th March; this was met with great excitement and trading to date has exceeded expectations. This marked the seventh new counter opening in Zimbabwe in the nine months from 1 July to 31 March 2021,” the company says.

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