South African retailer Massmart raises prospect of 1,800 jobs being cut

South African retailer Massmart Holdings has started talks with unions to cut up to 1,800 jobs at the company’s struggling Game stores, after an ‘indifferent performance in the 2019 financial year’ followed by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic this year.

Game, a general merchandise chain, has been a drag on group profit as financially-constrained customers prioritise spending on non-durables such as food, as opposed to items such as appliances.

Earlier this year, Massmart said it would cut costs and restructure into wholesale and retail units, but the impact of the virus has accelerated some of its turnaround strategies. The group lost R4.6 billion in sales during a strict nine-week lockdown.

The company confirmed that no stores would be closed as part of the restructuring plans. The potential job cuts would represent around 3% of Massmart’s total workforce.

Game joins some of the country’s big firms in announcing plans to cut jobs following the COVID-19 pandemic, including steel producer ArcelorMittal South Africa, food producer Tiger Brands and telecom operator Cell C.