US appointee to drive Massmart’s online sales
By Philippa Larkin
JOHANNESBURG - Retail giant Massmart, which owns Game, Makro and Builders, said yesterday that it had appointed Theodore Sylvester John, Walmart’s North America vice-president for last-mile delivery, to lead its e-commerce team as it targets growth in this critical area.
His remit in his new role would be to leverage his experience to assist his Massmart peers in establishing a market-leading e-commerce and omni channel capability within the Massmart group, the company said.
The company's executive team is increasingly being bolstered in key appointees bought in by its US-parent Walmart as it tries to turn the fortunes of the ailing company.
Walmart last year appointed retail veteran Mitchell Slape as chief executive of Massmart, who announced a turnaround plan in January that included exiting Game’s under-performing fresh and frozen food categories, and the consolidation of the group’s low-cost wholesale route to market by merging Masswarehouse and Masscash Cash & Carry.
Slape said: “The role of e-commerce is an important growth area for Massmart. Covid-19 has further emphasised the critical importance of e-commerce to access changing customer expectations and, while we have seen significant increases in click and collect and online sales, we know there is more we can do.
“The result is that we have placed high priority on investing in, and improving, our e-commerce competence. To achieve this, we are extremely lucky to be able to draw on Walmart’s extensive knowledge and experience. They have been unwavering and very enthusiastic about sharing their expertise with us and Sylvester’s assignment is further evidence of their support.”
Slape said Massmart had laid the foundations for a successful omni-channel and e-commerce business, having been early adopters of click-and-collect and recognising the importance of last-mile delivery through the acquisition of Wumdrop in 2017.
“Sylvester's experience will be invaluable in leveraging this strong foundation and establishing Massmart as a market leader in e-commerce,” he said.
Massmart said yesterday that John, who would report to chief operations officer Richard Inskip, had extensive senior level retail experience in the US and Africa, having worked in a range of business development activities, including merchandising and operations.
Massmart said John had been key in launching and positioning online grocery pick-up in the US and establishing Walmart’s last-mile delivery organisation, delivering from more than 3 000 stores in 500 markets that account for more than 65 percent of US households. This included leading Walmart’s express delivery, Snap, smart substitutions and instacart marketplace initiatives.
Massmart said John would join its team subject to the conclusion of meeting South African work visa requirements. Massmart in August reported that its interim headline loss widened to R1.1 billion, as sales at its stores slid due to Covid-19 disruption. Although sales fell 9.7 percent, online sales leapt 95 percent.
In September, data from First National Bank (FNB) showed that average e-commerce spend recorded on FNB merchant devices during the first half of this year grew 30 percent year-on-year, compared with last year. The growth statistics of local e-tailer OneDayOnly.co.za exceeded 100 percent within the 2020 year.