Mr Price’s chief executive, Mark Blair, said yesterday that the retailer, with the help from its associates and partners, in the past 10 days had been working to get back up and operational after the civil unrest. Photo: File
Mr Price’s chief executive, Mark Blair, said yesterday that the retailer, with the help from its associates and partners, in the past 10 days had been working to get back up and operational after the civil unrest. Photo: File

Mr Price is working to get back to normal

By Philippa Larkin Time of article published Jul 22, 2021

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Mr Price’s chief executive, Mark Blair, said yesterday that the retailer, with the help from its associates and partners, in the past 10 days had been working to get back up and operational after the civil unrest.

Mr Price said yesterday that the damage caused by looting did not increase materially beyond what was first reported and totalled 111 stores. At one stage over 500 of the group’s stores were temporarily closed, but had now significantly reduced to 20 temporary store closures, the company said.

Mr Price is the latest retailer to materially account for the cost of the civil unrest. More than 300 Shoprite Holdings and Pick n Pay stores were hit by looters and burnt in last week’s civil unrest and riots in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), the companies said on Tuesday in separate statements.

Woolworths said on Monday that 11 stores had been looted and severely damaged with nine of the 11 stores in KZN and two in Gauteng during last week’s mayhem.

Retailers including Pepkor, Massmart, Clicks, the Foschini Group and Truworths also announced that their outlets had been affected and were they counting the cost of the looting and damage.

Shareholders were advised that the civil unrest the company had reported on July 14 had almost completely subsided. Most of the damage and disruption was contained in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and to a lesser extent, Gauteng, and did not spread to the rest of South Africa.

Blair said, “I am extremely grateful to all our associates and partners for their efforts over the last 10 days. To get us back up and operational in the affected areas so quickly has been an incredible team effort. The proactive community response and tenacious spirit within the business is evidence that the actions of a few will not determine the course of the majority. We look forward to returning our focus to growing our business and creating opportunities for all our stakeholders.”

“Extensive efforts were made to ensure that the group’s distribution centres were unaffected and as of Tuesday 20 July, these sites were fully operational including all logistics and distribution activities. The Durban Port is experiencing some bottlenecks but this is expected to ease as all facilities are operating,” the retailer said.

Mr Price said head office associates worked remotely during the unrest and had now returned to their respective workplaces in line with Covid-19 level 4 lockdown protocols.

A detailed assessment was being undertaken to inform insurance claims and to determine the reopening of looted stores on a case-by-case basis. The group said its intention was to reopen all looted stores, but would be considered based on the specific circumstances of each store location and the status of the individual shopping centres in which these stores were located.

It said the impact on local suppliers was less than originally feared although some effect would be felt on forward merchandise orders. The full broader financial impact of the unrest would be quantified and communicated in due course.

“The group has received overwhelming support from all its partners and stakeholders and is extremely grateful for this. It is in the fortunate position to give back and through the Mr Price Foundation will be doing so immediately through several initiatives.

“The immediate need is for access to essential and grocery items and the group has identified specific communities connected to its distribution centres and supply chain which it will be providing with food parcels. In addition, it will be providing aid relief to communities at large both via its own channels and through recognised foundations,” it said, adding that the group was encouraged by the proactive engagement between business and the government and remains committed to being a part of the solution in South Africa.

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