Massmart chief executive Guy Hayward. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA).

DURBAN – Massmart fell 3 percent yesterday after the retailer announced that its chief executive Guy Hayward would step down before the end of the year, ending a career that spanned nearly 20 years with the group. 

The group said the exact timing of Hayward’s exit was still to be confirmed as he and the board wanted to ensure a seamless transition. 

It said it had an experienced executive management team that would continue to focus on the improvement of its high-volume, low-expense business model that saves its customers money so that they can live better.

“The process to appoint Hayward’s successor is under way and the board will make further announcements in due course,” the group said yesterday.

Massmart owns brands such as Game, Makro, Builders Warehouse and CBW and is majority owned by US retail giant Walmart. 

Hayward was Massmart chief executive for the past five years. The group yesterday paid tribute to Hayward, charging that he guided it through exceedingly challenging market conditions and has worked to position the business for future growth. 

“Under his leadership we have seen the introduction of value added services, the development of a shared group logistics service and the implementation of competitive online offerings in Makro, Game and Builders Warehouse,” the group said.

In the 52 weeks to end December, Massmart reported that its continued focus on new revenue streams saw a 61 percent growth in value added services business achieved through growth across money transfers, lotto sales, cash-backs, RCS credit products and extended warranties.

Its omni channel focus resulted in the group's total online sales growing by 6 percent, although the group's overall headline earnings plunged by 31.7 percent to R901.2 million during the period as retailers continue to struggle under the subdued economy in the country. 

Massmart’s total sales increased by 2.9 percent to R90.9 billion, with comparable store sales increasing by 1.2 percent and product deflation of 0.2 percent. Total sales from its South African stores grew by 2.9 percent and comparable sales by 1.5 percent during the period. 

Massmart chairperson Kuseni Dlamini said the group  would like to convey its appreciation to Hayward for his contribution and dedication to Massmart. “He has been a valued contributor to many of the company’s defining milestones, including our listing on the JSE in 2000, the closure of the Walmart transaction in 2010/11 and the multiple corporate acquisitions to grow and diversify the group. We wish him well in all his future endeavours,” Dlamini said. 

Massmart shares closed 3.06 percent lower at R91.37 on the JSE on Monday.

BUSINESS REPORT