CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- It has been the greatest turnaround in South African supermarket history. Three years ago the tiny Shoprite supermarket chain seemed about to collapse, apparently having failed to digest the many times larger and highly unionized Checkers chain it bought in a mood of confident expansionism in 1992. Shoprite had 20 stores at the time; the ailing local supermarket pioneer Checkers had 190. However, by the end of the financial year in February 1995, ...

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