5 Biggest Retailers In South Africa


When it comes to the retail business in Africa, South Africa is without-a-doubt a market leader. It is home to many retail stores that not only have their presence in the country but also beyond. The number of retailers in the country is always on the rise. This is attributed to the increasing middle class market competition and also urbanization.

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The 5 Biggest Retailers in South Africa are as follows:

1. Shoprite:


Shoprite is the largest retailer in South Africa. It has held on the top position for the last five years. Besides being the top retailer in the country, it is also regarded as one of the most dominant brands in the region. Shoprite Holdings is a public company listed in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) – JSE: SHP. It was established in 1979 and has its headquarters and head office in Brackenfell, in the City of Cape Town, South Africa. It is headed by J.W. Basson who is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). C.G. Goosen is the Deputy Managing Director (MD); P.C. Engelbrecht is the Chief Operations Officer (COO), while C.H. Wiese is the Chairman.

The retailer employs more than 90,000 employees who are spread out in the different outlets in the country as well as Africa. Shoprite has more than 453 stores that are spread out in different countries in Africa. The brand is found in Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, Lesotho, Ghana, Malawi, Madagascar, Mozambique, Mauritius, Nigeria, Namibia, Swaziland, Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Shoprite also operates under other names some of which include: Checkers, Usave, OK furniture, House & Home, Hungry Lion, Medi Rite and more. It also has a couple of Franchises under the OK brand. The total corporate outlets exceed 1200.

2. Pick n Pay:


Pick n Pay is ranked as the second largest retailer in South Africa. The supermarket chain store was founded in 1967 and has its headquarters in Kenilworth in Cape Town, South Africa. It is headed by Richard Brasher who is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), while Gareth Ackerman is the executive chairman. Gareth Ackerman took over the role of executive chairman in 2010 after the retirement of his father Raymond Ackerman. The supermarket chain store employs about 50,000 people. Pick n Pay is listed as a public company at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange-JSE: PIK.

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It has outlets in many countries located in the southern part of the continent. These include: Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho, Mauritius and Malawi. Pick n Pay operates Supermarkets, Hypermarkets, Liquor stores, Clothing outlets, Express stores, Pharmacies, Mini markets and more. It operates franchises in South Africa and also other parts of Africa. The most popular franchises are Boxer and Score Supermarket. Besides South Africa and Africa, Pick n Pay has a presence in Australia. The store has been going through some rough economic times of late and has been forced to restructure. This has led to some employees being laid off.

3. Massmart (Walmart):


Massmart Holdings limited is the third largest retailer in South Africa. It is a public company that is listed in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (MSM: JSE). Massmart was established in 1990 and has its headquarters in Sandtown, in the city of Johannesburg, South Africa. It began its operations by acquiring six stores from the Makro brand. Ever since, the company has continued to experience impressive growth. This has been achieved through acquisition of other stores as well as good market performance. Some of the brands acquired by the firm include: Dion, Shield, Browns and Weirs, Game, Jumbo, Builders and Warehouse, CCW, Build rite, Cambridge Food, De Lay Rey and many others.

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Like other retailers in the region, Massmart focuses on general merchandise, food items, home improvement equipments and liquor. The store has outlets in Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana and other regions. Massmart also owns brands which include Game, Builder’s Warehouse, Makro, and CBW. The number of retail outlets that can be found in South Africa and other African countries are more than 300. In June 2011, Walmart, the largest retailer in the United States bought majority shares in the Company. The acquisition of Massmart by Walmart was met with opposition from the government as well as the labor union. However, the matter was eventually resolved.

4. SPAR:


SPAR is the fourth largest retailer in the South African Market. It is the only non-South African chain store that features in the top-five list. SPAR is an international brand which was started in 1932 in a small town in Netherlands known as Zoetermeer (Zegwaart). In 1953, it shifted its base to the town of Amsterdam. The Dutch-based multinational retailer operates convenience stores, grocery stores, hypermarkets, discount stores, and pharmaceutical shops spread out in not only South Africa but the world at large.

There are about 12,500 retail outlets of SPAR found in 35 countries all over the world. Besides South Africa, the brand is found in countries such as Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Oceania, Japan, Hungary, Northern Ireland, Republic of Vanuatu, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Australia, Zambia, Swaziland, China, Mauritius, India, Angola, and Greenland. SPAR also operates franchises. For instance, it will be refered to as Despar in Italy, and Hotspar in Japan. It also comes in sub brands such as interspar, spar express, euro spar and more.

5. Woolworths:


Woolworths Holdings Limited is the fifth largest retailer in South Africa. The chain of retail stores is listed as a public corporation at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE: WHL). The first Woolworths store was founded by Max Sonnenberg in Cape Town in 1931. Woolworths Holdings Limited is headed by Ian Moir (CEO) and Simon Susman (Non-executive chairman). It has about 18,000 employees in South Africa only. The retailer deals in clothing, groceries, footwear, food stores, home ware, beauty products, and financial services. The stores are spread out across South Africa, the rest of Africa and also the Middle East. Products from the retailer are sold by franchise stores, corporate stores, and petrol station outlets.

There goes the list of the top 5 biggest retailers in South Africa. Looking at the list it is evident that the stores holding the top positions have dominated the market for quite a long time. This clearly indicates the potential that exists in the country. And if the performance in the recent past is anything to by, the future outlook in the retail sector in South Africa looks bright.

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