Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi/INLSA

CAPE TOWN - South African retailer Pick n Pay has invested R5.3 billion in opening and refurbishing stores and building its supply chain, creating almost 14,000 new jobs in the past three years, its chairman said on Monday.

Over the next three years, Pick n Pay looks to create another 15,000 new jobs, Gareth Ackerman said at the company ’s annual general meeting.

He said while South Africa was not over the worst yet, the country was heading in a distinctly more optimistic direction and more focus needed to be placed on employment.

“In just about every public survey, the number one priority for South Africans is employment," he said.

"It’s not difficult to see why; with job security comes dignity, the ability to chart your own future, provide for your family and play a meaningful role in the economy."

Ackerman noted that Pick n Pay had recently received the Employer of Choice for 2018 accolade at the Future of HR Awards.

“This will bring many young people into the world of work and the opportunities that retail provides to build a career and progress in the world,” he said.

He said the company’s impact was wide, as it worked with about 10,000 suppliers with whom it had spent nearly R68 billion last year, providing employment to more than 400,000 people.

At least one million people were directly affected by Pick n Pay by way of employment, Ackerman said.

“Getting South Africans to work should be the top priority of any business looking to the long-term stability of our country. It’s a worthy goal for all of us in the corporate sector," he said.

Pick n Pay also contributed to economic activity through its franchise stores, nearly a third of which were black-owned . Some 21,000 people are employed by Pick n Pay franchise owners.

“Our franchisees play a critical role in promoting the growth of small suppliers. The relationships they develop help small suppliers integrate into the formal supply chain and a national market," Ackerman said. "Many are emerging farmers.”

- African News Agency (ANA)