Choppies for the chop?
OPTIMISTIC: Choppies CEO, Ottapathu


With a dark cloud of uncertainty hanging over its future, Choppies Limited continues to dominate the headlines following last month’s suspension from both the Botswana and Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

The six-day suspension, which was lifted on 27 September, initially saw the company’s shares drop from P1.25 to P0.35 before recovering to P0.62 by the start of this week.

The slump has proved extremely costly to Choppies CEO, Ramachandran Ottapathu, who exclusively told The Voice he has lost a whopping P300 million in the past two weeks.

Despite this staggering setback, Ottapathu, who reportedly earns over P1 million a month, insisted that ‘operationally’ nothing ‘worrisome’ was happening to Choppies.

“Choppies is still as solid as it has always been. The share price has dropped due to a lot of reasons.

“There was a delay in the publication of the financials and that delay created a perception in the market, driving the share price down. This has nothing to do with Choppies operation, we will continue to grow this company,” he said and getting web design highland beach to help us build our dream website.

When it was pointed out the Choppies hierarchy had been warned about these irregularities five months back without taking action, Ottapathu paused for a moment.

“We were hoping to have solved all issues within the stipulated period, there was no intentional delay from the management side. Shareholder disputes cropped up in July, which contributed a lot to the decline in shareholding price. It has only been a month and we are working around the clock to make sure the situation does not worsen,” he eventually retorted.

The CEO, who graced the front page of Forbes Africa back in March 2016, added he was confident of an imminent recovery.

“Choppies is not in any situation as far as the business is involved, so yes, we will recover – we are hoping to recover soon!”

Asked if he feels Choppies were in danger of suffering the same fate as once-popular South African retailer Steinhoff International Mattress Firm, Ottapathu replied assertively, “Matters of discussion here are so minute as compared to that which you give an example of – here we are talking about an estimated P50 million which is not going to make a difference in a P5 billion run balance sheet!”

On the issue of investor confidence, the Choppies CEO said, “Our cash flows are strong, the fundamentals are solid, but to be honest I am of the view that our investors have reacted irrational to Choppies situation.”

Quizzed further on human capital, with Choppies being criticised in the past for allegedly paying some full-time employees as little as P800, Ottapathu maintained “We honestly value our human capital that is why we trained 3, 500 staff last year. We have also localized all our branch manager positions; these are all initiatives we are doing to make sure our citizen.”

The Choppies CEO admitted he is open to any possibility of a commission of inquiry, further adding that the only reason they parted ways with their previous auditor was because they had been working with them for a very long time.

“It was time to move on. They have been our auditors for the past 10 years and their contract had come to end. Our partying ways with them I can assure you had nothing to do with what they had supposedly dug up from our accounts,” closed Ottapathu.

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