JSE-listed consumer goods distributor Massmart Holdings has become the biggest producer of renewable energy in the South African retail sector, with a total 4.4-million kilowatt-hours generated from solar photovoltaic panels on the rooftops of six stores nationally.
Massmart corporate affairs head Brian Lerone tells Engineering News Online that the company will generate 5.5-million kilowatt-hours of renewable energy by the end of November.
These solar plants provide Massmart’s standalone stores – Makro and Builder’s Warehouse – with about half of the stores’ daily energy requirements and provide 24% of the stores’ total yearly energy consumption.
Massmart subsidiaries – Makro, Builder’s and Game – have been committed to installing energy- and water-saving mechanisms actively for the last decade.
For example, the Builder’s stores have rainwater harvesting infrastructure in place on store rooftops, which provides water for its in-store nurseries and grey water systems for toilets.
Massmart has reduced its municipal water consumption by more than 50-million litres of water in the last three years.
The Builder’s stores also have innovative lighting systems in place using heat reflecting panels on the ceiling to let in natural light, reducing the amount of electrical lighting needed inside the stores.
Additionally, store lighting across the company’s complement of stores in South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique and Botswana, is controlled by a building management system, which monitors stores’ requirements for lighting and cooling, and automatically adjusts equipment remotely, which ensures optimal energy efficiency.
Builder’s CEO Llewellyn Walters notes that African countries often having high utility tariffs, which makes it more vital to save on energy and water, along with preserving the environment.
Meanwhile, Massmart’s expansion plants into Africa are progressing well, with Game stores situated already in Namibia, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, Botswana, Lesotho and Mozambique, in addition to South Africa.
Massmart opened the first store outside of South Africa’s borders in 1993, with Game in Botswana.
Walters says the most challenging aspect of opening a new store is securing property, which is one of the top factors when Massmart considers opening a new store, especially in an untapped market outside of South Africa, since every government has its own way of handling property matters.
He explains that, for an effective store opening in Africa, it is necessary to keep up a consistent business culture, which breeds familiarity and reliability in a new market.
He adds that it is necessary to have key partnerships with people; not only suppliers and service providers to Builder’s, but also with local staff members, since they have an understanding of the market conditions and consumer preferences, which is unique in every country, and often even unique within the various regions of a country.
Builder’s plans to open a store in Kenya by early 2020, while continuously scouting for new potential sites across sub-Saharan and West African countries.
*Marleny Arnoldi was a guest of Massmart’s during a tour of its operations in Lusaka, Zambia.Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online