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Leading S.African retailer Pick n Pay sheds 3,500 jobs

JohannesburgSouth Africa, Aug 1 – One of South Africa’s largest retailers Pick n Pay has said it had cut around 3,500 jobs – 10 percent of its workforce – in a bid to curb costs in an economy battling a recession.

“The voluntary severance programme is one of several steps we have taken to make our business more competitive in what is a tough trading environment,” Pick n Pay’s chief executive Richard Brasher said in a statement.

South Africa’s economy is troubled by sluggish growth, record unemployment and low investor confidence.

Last year, the continent’s most advanced economy grew a paltry 0.3 percent and it slipped into recession in the first quarter of this year.

Established in 1967, Pick n Pay is the country’s second largest supermarket chain and boasts more than 1,500 outlets.

It has expanded across Africa, including operations in Botswana, Mauritius, Namibia and Zambia.

South Africa’s economic woes have been exacerbated by political uncertainty that followed President Jacob Zuma’s controversial March reshuffle of ministers.

The shake-up, which included axing respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan, prompted ratings agencies Fitch and Standard & Poor’s to downgrade South Africa’s credit rating to junk status.

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