Basson steps down after 45 years with Shoprite

END OF AN ERA: Shoprite announced yesterday that its long-standing CEO, Whitey Basson, would be calling it a day. Picture: Getty Images

Whitney Basson will retire as Shoprite CEO at the end of the year after nearly 45 years with the retailer.

The grocery chain announced at its annual general meeting yesterday that Basson would be succeeded by chief operating officer Pieter Engelbrecht from January 1.

Shoprite is Africa’s biggest food retailer, with 1 825 corporate (Shoprite-owned) and 363 franchise outlets in 15 countries across Africa and the Indian Ocean islands. Its revenue for last year was R10.7bn and its market capitalisation is R114bn.

Shoprite said: “Basson’s decision to retire will bring to a close a remarkable career of nearly 45 years, virtually all of which were 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 more than 140000 employees today.”

Shoprite chairperson Christo Wiese said Basson had spearheaded Shoprite’s pioneering expansion into the rest of Africa after 1994.

He said: “Whitey has been a very strong and charismatic leader who has managed the company through market transitions, taking calculated risks to turn the supermarket group into the leading retailer on the continent.”

Basson said he needed to pave the way for new leadership.

“I have been privileged to lead the Shoprite group from small beginnings to one of the continents’ greatest companies.

After so many years with the group, it’s time to pass the baton to a new generation of leadership,” he said.

The “Retail King” has had a good innings across the continent, but in Zambia he had a falling out with Shoprite former director, Lewis Mosho.

The battle with Mosho recently spilled into South Africa with the Zambian demanding the suspension of Shoprite Holdings from the JSE over alleged breaches of regulations.

The letter said if the JSE did not take action within 30 days, Mosho would seek a court order compelling the bourse to suspend Shoprite.

Yesterday, John Burke, the director of issuer regulation of the JSE, said the matter was the bourse’s investigation unit and decision will be taken upon its recommendation.

Samuel Mungadze