Cape Town – Shoprite [JSE:SHP] CEO Whitey Basson will retire at the end of the year, the company announced on Monday.
“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,” the company said in a statement on Monday on the day of its annual general meeting.
"Whitey has been a very strong and charismatic leader, who has managed the company through market transitions and challenging times, taking calculated risks to turn the supermarket group into the leading retailer on the continent,” said Shoprite chairperson Christo Wiese.
“He accelerated the growth of the business and inter alia spearheaded Shoprite's pioneering expansion into the rest of Africa after 1994. He also successfully acquired and integrated Grand Bazaars, Checkers and OK Bazaars. He fully deserves his reputation as one of South Africa's 'retail giants'.
"The board is immensely grateful for his innumerable contributions to the company and his distinguished tenure as CEO over almost four decades.
“His continuous service to the company, its employees and shareholders, as well as to the broader South African business community has been remarkable.”
Basson will remain on the Shoprite board as non-executive vice-chairperson to continue “to share his knowledge and experience”, said Wiese.
Basson said it has been a privilege to lead Shoprite.
“I have been privileged to lead the Shoprite group from small beginnings to one of the continent's greatest companies.
“After so many years with the group, it's time to pass the baton to a new generation of leadership," he said.
"Given the quality of Shoprite Holdings' current management team and their exceptional track record, I foresee that the company will continue to grow from strength to strength.
“Fortunately effective succession has always been a key focus for the management team and over the last few years many of the key operational responsibilities had already been successfully handled by the senior management team."
Pieter Engelbrecht (47), former chief operating officer, will take over from Basson on January 1 2017.
He has been with the company for 20 years and has played a leading role in the company's growth under Basson's leadership, Shoprite said.
Shoprite was criticised this month after it doubled Basson’s pay to R100.1m with a R50m bonus last fiscal year.
READ: Shoprite doubles Whitey Basson’s pay after bonus
Shoprite’s share price was up 4.19% at R199 on Monday at 09:45.