Reflecting widespread distress among businesses in Zimbabwe, the Edgars retail chain said Friday that it has closed 19 of 55 stores countrywide, will shut another five of its clothing outlets soon, and plans to shutter 14 of its Express stores.

Edgars cited government price controls as the main reason for the major scaleback.

In a statement accompanying results for the quarter ended June 30, Edgars states that if the chain can reach an agreement with Harare for a viable pricing model the closed shops will be restocked and reopened in April next year.

Edgars Chief Executive Officer Raymond Mlotshwa was not immediately available for comment - his staff said he was in a meeting.

Director Dennis Nikisi of the University of Zimbabwe's Graduate School of Management told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the downsizing by Edgars, which used to manufacture most of the goods it sold, reflects a de-industrialization that will leave Zimbabwe dependent on imported goods.

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