At the company’s annual general meeting on Monday, Pick n Pay chairman Gareth Ackerman said although South Africa was not yet over the worst, the country was heading in a distinctly more optimistic direction. He said more focus needed to be placed on creating employment.
“In just about every public survey, the number one priority for South Africans is employment. 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,” said Ackerman.
He said that, over the past three years, Pick n Pay had invested R5.3billion in opening and refurbishing stores and building its supply chain. These investments had created almost 14 000 new jobs.
“I was delighted to see just this past month Pick n Pay winning the Future of HR Awards as Employer of Choice for 2018. We hope that, with the focus on foreign investment into South Africa, it is not just replacement capital but new investment into the economy. Local companies need to be recognised and incentivised to increase their investment and create jobs,” said Ackerman.
He added that, over the next three years, Pick n Pay would look to create another 15 000 jobs. “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. But the firm’s impact is far wider: we work with about 10 000 suppliers, and last year spent nearly R68bn with them. This provides jobs to more than 400 000 people.”
Ackerman said about a million people were directly affected by being employed at Pick n Pay.
Pick n Pay spokesperson Tamra Veley said the retailer planned to create the 15 000 jobs by growing.
“The more we grow, the more opportunities we create for employment. So we drive job creation through long-term sustainable growth, through new store openings or refurbishments. We also invest strongly in small suppliers through our Enterprise and Supplier Development programme. By providing mentorship and access to markets to these small-business owners, they are able to grow their businesses and, in turn, employ more people,” said Veley.
She said 124 new stores had been opened during the retailer’s current financial year, adding 3.1% to turnover growth and 3.3% to trading space.
“The group plans to invest a further R1.7bn next year in new stores, refurbishments and in building our supply chain capacity. Total retail trading space will increase by an estimated 3% in 2019, in line with this year,” said Veley.
Ackerman said another important way the retailer contributed to economic activity was through its franchise stores, almost a third of which are black-owned and nearly 40% are either exempted micro enterprises or qualifying small enterprises. Franchisees employ 21000 people.
“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. Many are emerging farmers,” he said.
Ackerman said Pick n Pay was in talks with the Consumer Goods Council of SA and the Department of Trade and Industry for these small businesses and franchisees to receive better recognition on the company’s black economic empowerment scorecard. As they're individually owned, they don't contribute to its BEE score.