South Africa: Shoprite CEO's Dilemma - How Much Change Is Enough?


One of the few constants in life is change -- except at Shoprite, it would seem. While the CEO of 37 years is long departed, the chair, Christo Wiese, is clinging to the position. Change in a relentless consumer environment is necessary, and good, which means it is up to the CEO to stare down his chairman if necessary.

The combination of Whitey Basson and Christo Wiese as CEO and chairman respectively of retailer Shoprite was arguably one of the most effective yet seen. Wiese trusted Basson implicitly, leaving him to get on with the job of building a retail empire, stepping forward to provide support only when called for.

The result was explosive growth which, at its height, saw the group grow from 241 stores in 1997 to 2,779 in 2019, from 20,000 employees to 147,268 in the same period and R9.4-billion in sales to R150-billion in sales.

Under their watch, the group expanded into 14 other sub-Saharan countries, which contributed 25.1% of total group sales in 2019.

With the retirement of Basson in 2016 after 37 years at the helm and the recent announcement that Wiese will step down within the year as executive chairman (after 28 years...

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