There is a single, tantalising line in the interim results the massive Shoprite retail group announced on Monday.
"Following a successful pilot partnership with Uber Eats in Cape Town, the group is planning to extend its offering to Johannesburg and Durban," the group told its investors.
Then the company clammed up entirely.
"At this point, there is nothing more than what we've said thus far," is all Shoprite would say when asked for details.
But we can connect the dots – and the picture is promising.
In November the Checkers chain partnered with Uber to offer deliveries within 3.5km of its stores in Sea Point and Kloof Street in Cape Town. All the products carried in the store were not available via the delivery app, but Checkers offered a product spread that catered to certain scenarios – including the last-minute braai. Beer, whiskey and wine were on the menu, along with read-to-braai meats, briquettes, firelighters, and desert.
Another scenario catered to the lazy morning in, with newspapers, coffee, muffins, and fruit juice on the menu.
Food retailers have had a tough time making online food shopping stick between pre-booked delivery slots that may or may not be honoured, and a shopping process described as tedious.
By contrast Uber Eats has been downloaded more than 550,000 times in South Africa, and continues to grow fast.
Shoprite’s share price reached a record high on Tuesday after the market embraced yesterday's results. By midday, it was up 5% to R269.52.
The biggest reason for the rally was low expectations, says Schalk Louw, portfolio manager and strategist at PSG Wealth.
The market’s consensus for diluted headline earnings was an increase of 9.4%. Shoprite delivered 14.25%.
“South Africa was the stud in its stable. Domestic gross profit margins rose and local profit before tax increased,” said Louw. But its activities in the rest of Africa disappointed somewhat. Still, if the impact of the strong rand is excluded, it grew by 1.9% - which shows that this part of the business remains on track.”
Shoprite. Earnings up 14% and dividends up13.9%. Good volume growth of 3.9%. Virtually no internal inflation. S.A. was star. Non S.A. actually disappointing. Results good as expected— Wayne McCurrie (@WayneMcCurrie) February 26, 2018
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