INSIGHT-South African supermarket giants in fine food fight
* Discounter Shoprite drives hard into upmarket niche
* Sets stage for a turf war with rival Woolworths
* Low-income shoppers cut back as recession hits
* But spending of wealthy has held up in downturn
By TJ Strydom
JOHANNESBURG, June 19 (Reuters) - As South Africa slides into recession, and households have less and less to spend, the number one supermarket group Shoprite is adopting an unlikely strategy: it's pushing upmarket.
While the lower-income families that have long been its core customers cut back, the spending of the wealthier class remains undented by the downturn.
In a bid to retain its leading industry position, the discount retailer's new boss is driving hard into the upmarket, higher-margin niche dominated by rival Woolworths.
The stage is set for a turf war to win the hearts, minds and wallets of South Africa's richest 2 million households - and ultimately preeminence in the supermarket sector. Continued...