Posted by News Express | 1 November 2016 | 2,925 times
Whitey Basson has served notice of his resignation as Shoprite CEO. He will be succeeded by chief operating officer Pieter Engelbrecht on January 1, the grocery chain announced at its Annual General Meeting on Monday morning.
“Basson’s decision to retire will bring to a close a remarkable career of nearly 45 years, virtually all of which was spent with Shoprite, in which the business grew from a small eight-store chain with a value of R1m to a globally respected retailer with a market capitalisation of R114bn, and over 140,000 employees today,” Shoprite said in a statement.
Shoprite chairman Christo Wiese said Basson had spearheaded Shoprite’s pioneering expansion into the rest of Africa after 1994.
The retirement of Basson meant a merger between Shoprite and Steinhoff was one step closer, analysts said on Monday.
After Monday’s AGM Basson stressed his decision to retire had nothing to do with speculation about a merger between Shoprite and furniture and clothing retailer Steinhoff, which he is thought to oppose. “The stress of running a big business is massive, I’m constantly fighting on several fronts,” said the man who joined a small local retail company 37 years ago and drove it to become Africa’s largest food retailer.
“There’s so much red tape and all sorts of stuff that takes up so much time, I’m tired of it all now, you need to be young,” said Basson, who described his successor, Peter Engelbrecht, as “a very good guy, very driven.”
Engelbrecht was previously Basson’s personal assistant. “We’ve been preparing him for the CEO position for the past five years,” Basson said.
Analysts said the fact that the Shoprite share price spiked after the news that its driving force was retiring pointed to expectations that Christo Wiese, chairman of both Shoprite and Steinhoff, would push hard for a transaction that has been on the cards for almost a decade.
•Adapted from reports by Business Day (South Africa). Photo showsoutgoing Shoprite CEO Whitey Basson.