March 26, 2018 / 5:50 PM / 7 months ago

UPDATE 1-Massmart to open 20 stores in pan-African expansion -chairman

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ABIDJAN, March 26 (Reuters) - South African retailer Massmart is continuing its pan-African expansion with plans to open about 20 new stores outside its home market over the next three years, the company's chairman said on Monday.

Massmart, majority-owned by U.S. retail giant Wal-Mart , operates nearly 400 stores, including 42 across 12 countries outside South Africa.

"We're very bullish about Africa, sub-Saharan Africa as a whole," Kuseni Dlamini told Reuters on the sidelines of the African CEO Forum in Ivory Coast's commercial capital Abidjan.

"This year alone we will be opening eight new stores on the African continent. In the next three years we'll be expanding our retail trading space by 35.6 percent."

New stores are due to open in Kenya, Ghana, Mozambique, Zambia and Swaziland.

Dlamini said Massmart is also studying markets in French-speaking West Africa with a view to starting operations there.

He added that recent political events in South Africa, including former President Jacob Zuma's resignation and replacement by Cyril Ramaphosa, were encouraging.

"We foresee consumer and business confidence getting better. We've already started to see some improvements on that front," he said. (Reporting by Joe Bavier Editing by David Evans and David Goodman)

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