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The Pick n Pay Group (“the Group”) is one of South Africa’s largest and most successful retailers.

In 1967 Raymond Ackerman purchased four small stores, launching Pick n Pay as South Africa’s first food discounter. Listed on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange the following year as Pick n Pay Stores Limited, its appearance among the Sunday Times Top 100 companies in 1969 reflected its rapid growth to prominence.

In the 2012 financial year the Group generated an annual turnover of R55.3 billion (from continuing operations), while processing more than 50 million consumer transactions a month and employing over 42 000 people. We aspire to be a world-class competitor where we operate, offering the best quality at the best prices, with additional services offered to cater to our customers’ expectations and evolving needs.
Turnover: R 55330.500bn Trading Profit: R 1267.500bn Trading Margin: 2.29%
Stores: 891 Trading Space: 1,101,000m2 Employees: 42,400
Listed: Yes EBITDA: R 2073.700bn HEPS: 160.80 cents
Click the headings above to view an extended report for the past 5 years
Pick 'n Pay


The Pick n Pay Group (“the Group”) is one of South Africa’s largest and most successful retailers.

In 1967 Raymond Ackerman purchased four small stores, launching Pick n Pay as South Africa’s first food discounter. Listed on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange the following year as Pick n Pay Stores Limited, its appearance among the Sunday Times Top 100 companies in 1969 reflected its rapid growth to prominence.

In the 2012 financial year the Group generated an annual turnover of R55.3 billion (from continuing operations), while processing more than 50 million consumer transactions a month and employing over 42 000 people. We aspire to be a world-class competitor where we operate, offering the best quality at the best prices, with additional services offered to cater to our customers’ expectations and evolving needs.

At February 2012 the Group consists of 941 stores, owned and franchised, across southern Africa, including a 49% investment in Zimbabwean retailer TM Supermarkets, comprising 50 stores. The franchise operation of the Company has helped create
388 individual entrepreneurs, many drawn from South Africa’s previously disadvantaged communities. Our franchise model has enabled rapid expansion for Pick n Pay and plays an active part in our continued growth. Store formats, both owned and franchised, include hypermarkets, supermarkets, express convenience, liquor, hardware, pharmacies and clothing. 



Over the past year we have refreshed, without substantively altering our strategy. Our overarching ambition is for the Group to become the “Retailer of choice for all South Africans”. This builds on Pick n Pay and Boxer’s brand strength and strong store portfolio.
Importantly this refreshed strategy does not represent a major departure from the strategy that has been followed for the past five years.

We have seven themes geared to ensure that the business can grow sustainably and profitably. There is a balance of growth-driven priorities, focusing on space, customer, franchise and product, and those largely focused on improving efficiency such as replenishment and store operations. The “One Pick n Pay” initiative ties these together to ensure that the business works well as a unified whole.

Strategic priority: Grow selling space ahead of the market
There is substantial competition for retail space both within South Africa and in other African markets. Ensuring that Pick n Pay increases its overall share of trading space over the long term is an important strategic priority. Over the past three years our space growth has lagged that of our competition particularly into the faster growing lower income areas and small stores. This not only directly reduces our market share but also puts pressure on like-for-like sales growth. We will continue to develop store formats and channels that meet customers’ changing needs both in Pick n Pay and Boxer, in South Africa and beyond. Additionally we continue to build a pipeline of new sites, whether greenfield or through acquisition that will ensure we meet our aspirations.

Strategic priority: Build deep customer relationships
The launch of our customer rewards programme Smartshopper gives us a significant opportunity to get to know our customers’ shopping habits and preferences substantially better than we do today. Since its launch in March 2011 the programme has been a great success. After just one year we now have over five million active cardholders, exceeding our initial target by two million. This enables us not only to know and understand each customer a great deal better, but to communicate with our customers in a different and more engaging manner.
We have direct access to the vast majority of Smartshopper customers by either sms or email, which means that we can send targeted marketing communications directly to them. We can also ask for feedback directly from them. All of this translates into a very valuable two-way dialogue with our customers.
As a result we are designing and executing marketing campaigns which are more relevant to our customers. We are extracting insights from their shopping habits data in order to tailor our product ranges and more accurately serve them. All of this will assist us in growing our sales volumes significantly.

Strategic priority: Revolutionise Pick n Pay’s product offer
During the past 12 months we have invested considerable time and resources in building a single specialised category buying division. Prior to the establishment of this division, Pick n Pay’s sourcing activities were distributed across the operating regions. This led to fragmentation of the Group’s buying scale, with each buyer having a wide range of products to source. Our new specialised category buying division is made up of category teams each of which is responsible for the end-to-end profitability of a specific product category. They are tasked with developing a product range that meets all customer needs, sourcing those products at the lowest possible cost, constructing shelf layouts that help customers find what they are looking for easily, building a promotional plan that generates customer excitement, increased volumes and higher margins, and ensuring that Pick n Pay’s prices remain highly competitive. Included in their responsibilities is the task of improving our Pick n Pay branded offer. Our own brand portfolio of products now makes up 15% of our grocery sales. It is a key source of differentiation for us.
As this division beds down we will see a vast improvement in the quality, choice and value of the products we offer to our customers.
Additionally we are focusing heavily on creating clear points of differentiation in fresh produce and meat. We have made significant improvements in recent years but we still have substantial scope to improve quality, freshness and range in these key categories, while minimising operating cost and wastage. We will be reviewing every part of the supply chain for fresh foods over the coming 12 months.

Strategic priority: Build a cost-effective replenishment system
Managing the flow of product to our stores in the most cost-effective manner is critical if we are to ensure that the product is available for the customer to buy at the right time, in the right place and at the right cost.
In 2007 we began transitioning from a direct-to-store delivery model to a centralised model where suppliers deliver to our own distribution centres and we consolidate the product and deliver to our stores. This results in a lower cost distribution model as fewer trucks travel fewer kilometres, while also enabling our stores to deal with much less complexity. Ultimately each store will receive fewer than five deliveries per day rather than, in some instances, more than 60. We will also be able to hold less stock in our stores.
Putting this model in place constitutes a major transformation of the business. We need to invest in distribution centres and build the capability to manage the flow of produce efficiently, which requires advanced systems and highly skilled personnel. We also need to develop the relationships with our suppliers so that we can minimise the total system cost of the supply chain and reinvest the savings in our product offer.
We have made significant progress in our operating regions served by the Longmeadow distribution centre in Johannesburg. This facility serves more than 300 stores and frequently delivers 1.6 million cases of product per week. We opened our new distribution centre in Cape Town in May 2012. Once this is fully operational, 50% of our grocery volume will be centralised. Further distribution centres will be opened in Durban and Johannesburg in the next two to three years.
Work has also begun on improving our fresh foods, frozen foods, and general merchandise distribution networks.

Strategic priority: Deliver best in-market shopping experience with lean efficiency
All elements of our strategy come to fruition in our stores. For us to serve our customer better, we need to improve how we support our store personnel to focus on those elements that really matter at the front-line. Through the other components of our strategy, we are putting in place specialists in marketing, category buying and replenishment. This will reduce the administrative strain of the stores significantly as they will be able to rely on specialised support structures to provide the right product to the store at the right time. Simplifying the store processes across the business will free up staff to do their jobs better and more efficiently leading to improved customer service and reduced costs.
Over the course of the next financial year, our store teams will be working hard to design the new ways of working which will be piloted before rolling-out.
In addition, our Goods Not for Resale (“GNFR”) team is working hard to minimise the cost to procure products and services that we do not on-sell to our customers: examples include cleaning and security services, trolleys and utilities. Since its establishment 18 months ago the team has saved over R100 million on an annualised basis.

Strategic priority: Sustain a thriving franchise business
Franchisees are a critical part of our growth strategy. Through the owner-managed model they deliver outstanding service to our customers while building their own businesses. This is a mutually beneficial relationship as we are able to roll stores out more rapidly and efficiently.
However, such a relationship needs to be constantly nurtured. The success of our franchise business depends on us offering talented entrepreneurs the best franchise model in the market. Over the past year we have done substantial work on continually improving the working relationship. We will be working through these plans with our franchisees over the coming months.

Strategic priority: Work as One Pick n Pay
Pick n Pay has grown as a decentralised business with largely independent operating regions working to grow sales and profit. This arrangement has served us well over more than 40 years. However, we have always recognised that business practices need to evolve with developments in technology and international best practice. We are in the midst of transforming to a model where stores are supported by a strong backbone of nationally based specialist functions. As we make this transition, the need to work cross-functionally is greater than ever before. We are determined to retain the entrepreneurial spirit that characterised our decentralised system while ensuring we capture the benefits of scale and specialisation.
To do so, we are investing heavily in leadership development and in engaging all parts of the business in the transformation. We can only succeed if we work as one.



The International Integrated Reporting Committee recommends that “a company present its strategy, governance, performance and prospects in a way that reflects the commercial, social and environmental context within which it operates”.

This section of our Integrated Annual Report specifically addresses our response to the social and environmental concerns that are shaping the retail industry in South Africa.

As a major retailer in South Africa, we strive to address socio-economic challenges through the supply of high quality, affordable food for all South Africans, whilst providing significant employment and economic opportunities across our value chain.

A wide range of environmental, social and governance trends are combining to create new commercial and socioeconomic challenges, which continue to redefine the role we have to play in South Africa.

All of our sustainability initiatives are directed at increasing the resilience of our business, through encouraging innovative thinking, partnerships and the transformation of systems and processes. We will continue to improve and grow, to ensure that we not only become the retailer of choice for all South Africans, but that we lead by example, as a strong and principled corporate citizen, playing an integral role in building a strong and successful South Africa.

This review provides a brief, high level overview of our sustainability initiatives and performance. Further detail may be accessed on our website at 



A great deal of focus and resources has been invested in an extensive transformation process over the last three years, requiring an unwavering commitment from the Pick n Pay team. We have faced a number of challenges and risks, but in a relatively short period have made significant strides in the implementation of our strategy and in renewing Pick n Pay for the future.

The considerable progress made to date includes the successful enterprise-wide implementation of SAP, the introduction of centralised distribution, our increased and improved footprint in the lower LSM market, the consolidation of our three inland administrative regions, the implementation of specialised category buying and the introduction of South Africa’s largest retail loyalty programme, Smartshopper.

These initiatives, although absolutely imperative to the long-term sustainability of the Group, have come with significant investment costs. These costs have negatively impacted the financial performance of the Group over the last few years. The 2012 financial year is no different, with significant investment costs once again curtailing profit growth. However, it is without doubt a year of two distinct halves. A particularly tough interim result saw our trading profit from continuing operations fall by 31.7% for the first half of the year, but we were able to achieve a marked improvement in the second half, with trading profit for the six months to 29 February increasing by 11.2% on the same period last year. We are encouraged by the performance in the second half and believe that there are now clear indications that our investments over the last few years are starting to yield real benefits.


The Group has taken some significant steps forward in the 2012 financial year, which have enabled us to bed down the key elements of our strategy and focus on our core operations:

Smartshopper –
we launched our loyalty programme in March 2011. Customer acceptance of the programme has far exceeded our expectations and we currently have in excess of five million active cardholders on the programme, against a first year target of three million. Smartshopper sales currently make up 60% of our total sales and 33% of all our baskets, with a Smartshopper basket growing at a significantly higher rate than a non-Smartshopper basket. We have been able to show our Smartshoppers real benefits, providing R350 million in savings over the year. It will take a number of years before we realise the full benefits of the programme, however we believe the encouraging growth in turnover this year is due in part to Smartshopper. Set-up costs have impacted the earnings of the Group, but we expect the programme to drive turnover growth now and into the future and generate additional value as we understand our customers better and can market more effectively to them.

Specialised category buying –
we have successfully completed the transformation of our regional buying teams into a single, specialised category buying division. This is a complete overhaul of buying at Pick n Pay and marks a significant shift in the way in which we engage with suppliers. The division has already delivered improved performance through the reduced cost of goods and a scientific approach to ranging and pricing. With specialised category buying we will be better placed in negotiations with suppliers, will rationalise our product range and will optimise our product display. Our key focus is on delivering an improved selection of high quality products and better value to customers.

Centralised distribution –
we are currently moving 1.6 million cases a week through Longmeadow, our central distribution centre in Gauteng, and 36% of total groceries are now centrally distributed. There have been pleasing operational improvements at Longmeadow, which include reduced labour and distribution costs per case on last year. We continue to focus on this facility to ensure that our supply chain is fully optimised. We opened our new Western Cape distribution centre in May 2012 which will benefit from our learnings at Longmeadow.

Labour costs and expense control –
general expense control remains a high priority and management is focused on eliminating inefficiencies, improving productivity and reducing controllable costs, especially in light of the extraordinary increases in property rates and electricity tariffs over the year. In December 2011 we negotiated a new agreement with the union, which affords us much more flexibility and will enable us to staff our stores more efficiently. We expect the benefits of this agreement to start flowing in the 2013 financial year.

PnP on Nicol –
our flagship “green” store in Sandton has traded exceptionally well over the last year and illustrates that there is significant opportunity for Pick n Pay in the upper end of the market. A number of successful innovations from this store were incorporated into three other stores this year and we plan to roll out more than 10 of these type of stores over the next three to five years.

Franklins, Australia –
in September 2011, after a lengthy dispute with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, we sold our Franklins business to Metcash Limited for R1.2 billion, net of fees. We are now able to focus our teams and capital entirely on our core southern African retail operations.
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The results presented in this Integrated Annual Report demonstrate a marked improvement in the second half of the financial year, driven largely by the major initiatives we have undertaken to transform the business in accordance with a clear strategy and implementation plan. This encouraging performance vindicates the tough choices we have made in recent years to reposition the Group for future expansion and growth.

In the year under review we have delivered substantively on our strategy and the undertakings given to our stakeholders. Notable achievements have included the sale of our Australian business for R1.2 billion, net of fees, the launch of our Smartshopper programme which has exceeded all our projections, an accelerated store roll-out and good progress on several comprehensive transformation projects within the business.

In context, however, trading has occurred in an uncertain economic environment: consumer confidence remains tenuous and slow to recover, with high levels of household debt and further increases in inflation putting pressure on disposable incomes. At the same time, the retail sector has experienced profound changes, posing new challenges to our competitiveness and necessitating a more urgent focus on our determination to improve operating efficiencies and provide a superior customer experience. While the retail industry is hardly a stranger to high levels of competitiveness, this new era takes competitiveness to a greater level. This is ultimately good for the consumer.

We are bound to acknowledge that government has achieved much in improving the quality of life of our citizens and that its management of the economy has, so far, been worthy of praise, and we thus owe government our support where it is due. Macro-economic stability has been impressively maintained in the face of the global financial crisis, inflation has been contained and economic policy has been fiscally prudent. But unemployment remains high, ageing infrastructure has constrained growth and daunting economic problems remain from the apartheid era. It is often said that government alone cannot resolve these issues and Pick n Pay has always believed that business has a duty to partner with government in the urgent task of economic development and socio-economic progress.

In the South African context, a sophisticated business sector is well placed to collaborate with government to create public policy and to fashion appropriate legislative frameworks which provide precisely the long-term vision envisaged by the work of the National Planning Commission.

As this report records, Pick n Pay has made great strides in advancing such a contribution. Whether in the nurturing of small-scale producers of agricultural produce, the mentoring of black-owned enterprises as suppliers to our stores, or the many projects undertaken as part of our corporate social investment commitments, we have sought to support and complement government’s efforts to create a society that is prosperous, stable and confident of its future.

Pick n Pay can regard with pride the contribution it has made to society since the dawning of a democratic South Africa and before. As an engaged corporate citizen, we take our social, economic and environmental responsibilities and obligations very seriously. In meeting these responsibilities, we have been guided by our core principle that doing good is good business, but also by the national priorities set by government, particularly in the fields of job creation, the nurturing of skills among emerging entrepreneurs and the advancement of certain key objectives such as education and the combating of HIV/Aids.

Domestic and foreign investor uncertainty would be greatly reduced were government to feel more confident that there is much to be gained from greater co-operation with the private sector and placed greater faith in the potential of public-private partnerships.

For our part, Pick n Pay will continue to explore strategies and opportunities that augment such collaboration in building the nation in which so many South Africans have invested their hopes and aspirations.

In seeking to operate profitably, we owe it to our shareholders to hold government accountable when it behaves in a manner that compromises our ability to conduct our business effectively and efficiently. Unlike labour, business is not in alliance with the governing party, and thus often struggles to have its voice heard above those with more privileged access to national policy debates.

At the time of writing, we launched our new “Goodness” programme, which illustrates our commitment to South Africa both economically and socially and underpins our three main focus areas within Pick n Pay: doing good is good business, consumer sovereignty and business efficiency. While this is a contemporary look at our initiatives, it amply cements our legacy as a company that is fully in tune with South African society.

Through the Pick n Pay Ackerman Foundation, we partner with emerging producers so that they can enter the supply chain as suppliers to our stores in their own right. Our small business incubator initiative offers not only funding, but also expertise to emerging producers and manufacturers in terms of mentorship and access to experts in the field. From milk to olive oil and charcoal, we are assisting small businesses and producers to develop their enterprises and get their products onto our shelves and into the baskets of our shoppers.

For the past five years, we have been investing each year to develop and mentor these independent businesses and we are really pleased with what they have achieved so far.

A major focus area for Pick n Pay is environmental sustainability and we are striving to be South Africa’s greenest retailer. We have won a great number of awards in the past year, such as the Sunday Times Top Brands Grand Prix Award for the third year running for doing the most to promote a more “green” lifestyle and second place in the Mail & Guardian’s annual Greening the Future awards for the most innovative environmental strategies. Pick n Pay was also awarded the Environmental Social Governance award and the Innovation Through Technology award at the annual African Access National Business Awards.

For Pick n Pay, sustainability is more than just being a “green” company. Our approach is to ensure we become a more resilient company by embedding sustainable practices in our core activities. These have positively impacted our bottom line, as they should.

Just after our financial year-end, we finalised our agreement with BP South Africa which will see the roll out of 120 Pick n Pay Express stores on BP forecourts over five years. This is a significant venture and allows us to expand our footprint in this format and benefit from an association with one of South Africa’s top petroleum companies.

Our expansion into Africa during the last year brought our store footprint to 94 and will continue deliberately and strategically into the next financial year, with openings set for Mozambique, Zambia and Mauritius. In February 2012 we subscribed for an additional 24% stake in our associate TM Supermarkets in Zimbabwe, taking our total investment to 49%.

While this Integrated Annual Report records much of which we can be proud, there is still much work to be done on transforming the business. A key focus area for us is customer service, which will receive our full attention in the year ahead and beyond. An integral part of this is our ability to staff our stores correctly and the labour agreement reached during the last financial year will go a long way towards making sure that the optimum staffing levels are achieved, which should have a significantly positive effect on customer service.

What I can confidently assert is that after several years of extremely difficult trading conditions, often dramatic restructuring and very considerable capital expenditure, Pick n Pay is beginning to demonstrate the tangible benefits which have been our goal since we launched this ambitious transformation programme some five years ago. The marked improvement in our second half result provides powerful momentum as we enter the new financial year.

There is a new energy across the Group and the “green shoots” towards which I have looked are becoming evident. I am confident that we have reached a significant turning point in Pick n Pay’s fortunes and that the building blocks are in place for us to become the most efficient and profitable business in South Africa’s food retail industry.

Towards the end of the financial year, Nick Badminton retired after 6 years as CEO and 33 years with the Company. He has played a critical role in transforming the business and I am extremely grateful for the loyalty, dedication and competence which characterised his years with Pick n Pay. He takes with him our very best wishes for his future.

My thanks to Richard van Rensburg and the Group Executive team for stepping up and running the Company so efficiently and effectively while we search for our new CEO.
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The Group’s core focus has been to strengthen its strong South African retail businesses, Pick n Pay and Boxer, while adopting a systematic approach to expanding into adjacent areas, including geographical growth through the African continent.

Pick n Pay has been consistently following this strategy since 2007, which has led us to exit non-performing parts of our portfolio. In 2007, the decision was made to convert the weak Score Supermarkets into Pick n Pay and Boxer stores. In September 2011, the Group’s Australian subsidiary, Franklins, was sold to Sydney-based wholesaler, Metcash Limited.

Each of these decisions has led to substantial value creation and has enabled the Group to focus more intently on Pick n Pay and Boxer.
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