DURBAN - MAKRO Springfield welcomed thousands of shoppers at its grand reopening on Monday afternoon.
The mega-store has been closed since the unrest in July, when the company’s property and goods were damaged, including the theft of the store’s solar panels in the parking area.
Massmart CEO Mitch Slape said the reopening was a genuine show of resilience from the company, which was only possible through the support of the entire Makro customer base.
“The reopening of this store is as important to us as it is to our customers. It symbolises rebirth and renewal. It tells of our resolve and says that as a company and as a people, we will always come back stronger than before.
“We really thank the community for all of the support that we received. Some people even offered to assist us with cleaning up the store after it all happened. Because of how hazardous it was, we could not allow that. But look at us now, a brand new store with an even better shopping experience to offer. We invite those kind people to come visit us and see the beautiful product of all our collective efforts,” said Slape.
Makro Springfield general manager Sue-Anne Jones said the store’s staff had been deployed to different stores around Durban.
“None of our staff were left without a job from the point of the looting in July. What happened is they were given to other stores to work shifts and service our customers in Durban,” said Jones.
Jones said one of the store’s trademarks, the solar panels, had not yet been put back, but would be reinstalled by the end of January.
Bheki Morale, who owns a liquor store in Ntuzuma, said he was beyond grateful for Makro’s return.
“Honestly, I am at a loss for words. The loss of Makro was felt by most store owners because we are used to the system of buying in bulk at a fair price. For four months I had to travel to other places where I could get supplies for my business, and the prices were not very nice. As licensed liquor store owners, the few months felt like a year as we were badly hurt by the looting. As you can see, we are queuing with fellow business owners to really make use of the opportunity during the reopening,” said Morale.
Long-time customer Lydia Naidoo, from Newlands East, said she was hopeful that the looters who destroyed Makro could see the misery it had brought to people and the area.
“When the store was destroyed, we immediately knew there was going to be jobs lost and families who would not have their source of income. Even worse, families in the area and all over Durban went for days without basics for their survival. It was just disheartening.
“My hope is that we all realise just how dangerous the game of burning infrastructure that is meant to service our communities is, and change for the better,” said Naidoo.
Another customer, Michael Jakobi, said that although he came all the way to Springfield from Botha’s Hill outside Hillcrest, he always looked forward to his visits to the store before and was thrilled about its return.
“My bulk buying was dreadfully derailed, especially during the Black Friday specials. But I am excited, even if the long queues are not glamorous,” said Jakobi.