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Pick n Pay’s newly appointed CEO to focus on core retail business

| On the move

Pick n Pay’s newly appointed CEO Sean Summers intends to focus on turning around the core retail business of the grocery group.

A trading statement released yesterday (02/10/2023) said the group expected to report a loss of between 98.18 and 79.31 cents per share, a 184% to 204% decline, from the 94.34 earnings per share it generated last year.

This on the same day as the retailer announced that group CEO Pieter Boone was stepping down, and would be replaced by former CEO Sean Summers.

The surprise change of CEO and forecast of a headline loss per share saw the group’s share price slump by over 13% yesterday afternoon.

Speaking to Business Report, Summers said: “It’s common cause that Pick and Pay is not in a good space at the moment, and it’s lost a lot of its momentum.

“The first order of business is to make sure that we focus on getting sales back in the stores. Focus on the people in the company. And through that, we’ll be able to focus more clearly on our consumers and get the support back into the business. As we go forward, we will start dealing with the other issues in the organisation,” he said.

“The elements of the company that are doing very well are Boxer, clothing, and a lot of other divisions, but it’s the core retail business that is the main challenge. That’s where we will actually be focusing all of our attention in the beginning,” he said.

Summers said he couldn’t comment on the retailer’s results as the group was in a closed period.

“I am very excited to be coming home to Pick n Pay. Retailing is my passion, and this company is in my blood. I have great excitement and energy for the task ahead.

“I am looking forward tremendously to meeting our teams up and down the country. We are in this together, and we will succeed together.

“I enjoyed the most extraordinary years, working with the late Raymond Ackerman, and we retained a deep personal relationship to the end. The best way I can honour Raymond and Wendy’s legacy is to put Pick n Pay back on to its rightful path to growth and success. I worked closely with Gareth for many years, and we will make a great team together.”

Summers previously worked for the group between 1974 and 2007, rising to become managing director in 1996 and CEO in 1999. He left the group in 2007.

“During his tenure, Pick n Pay was the clear grocery market leader in South Africa. The late Raymond Ackerman described Sean as ‘an excellent leader, who achieved remarkable things at Pick n Pay,’ the group said in a statement.

It said Summers was returning to the group following a previous, highly successful tenure as CEO between 1999 and 2006.

“Pieter will assist Sean through a short handover period,” it said.

On Boone’s stepping down, Pick n Pay chairperson Gareth Ackerman said: “Unfortunately, in a very difficult environment, the performance of our core Pick n Pay business has been very challenging over the past months, and has not met expectations.

“Pieter accepts that the board has decided on a change in leadership. He leaves us with our heartfelt thanks and best wishes for the future.”

Ackerman said: “I want to thank Pieter for his dedication to Pick n Pay over the past two-and-a-half years. He became our CEO while the Covid pandemic was still raging, and has led the business through some extraordinary challenges, including the transition out of the Covid lockdown, the unprecedented civil unrest in 2021, and the current load shedding crisis.

“Despite this, he devised and led the launch of our Ekuseni strategic plan, overseeing the very pleasing acceleration of our Boxer, Clothing, and Omnichannel growth engines, and launching our new QualiSave brand,” he said.

Summers will take over as Group CEO, with a goal to turn around the performance of the group’s Pick n Pay Retail core engine, while ensuring the continued success of the group’s growth strategies, Pick n Pay said.

“He will also prioritise an effective handover plan to the next generation of leadership in the company,” the group said.

Ackerman said: “We are delighted that Sean is coming back to Pick n Pay. His knowledge and experience are unrivalled. He is passionate about getting Pick n Payback on to the right trajectory and winning the trust and confidence of customers new and old. He is absolutely the right person for the job at this time.

“Sean is an inspirational leader. He will galvanise our teams, energise them to give everything for our customers, and delight the communities we serve.”

BUSINESS REPORT

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