Business Maverick


Ackerman family resign control of Pick n Pay

Ackerman family resign control of Pick n Pay
(Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The Ackerman family say they are confident in the retailer’s future, despite a blue Monday for Pick n Pay as it published bleak results.

Synonymous with the Pick n Pay brand, the Ackerman family are relinquishing control of the retail giant almost 60 years after Raymond Ackerman established the retailer.

Pick n Pay has announced that Ackerman Investment Holdings (AIH) is giving up its majority shareholding in the struggling group and Gareth Ackerman, the chairperson of PnP, will be stepping down after 14 years in the position.

Ackerman assumed the chair vacated by his father, Raymond Ackerman, who died last year. 

Gareth Ackerman is also co-chair of the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa.

The Ackermans, who hold a controlling stake in the group, have made a firm written confirmation to follow their rights under the anticipated Pick n Pay Rights Offer, subject to reasonable satisfaction with its terms and conditions. The exact mechanism has not been finalised yet but their voting rights will fall below 50% after the rights offer.

PnP Ackerman

Pick n Pay chairperson Gareth Ackerman. (Photo: Dwayne Senior / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Pick n Pay is fighting for its survival. On Monday, 27 May, the retailer – which was once the market leader – posted a full-year loss after tax of R3.19-billion. A year ago, it posted a profit of almost R1.2-billion. 

It also abruptly reappointed Sean Summers in October 2023 to turn the retailer around, after warning that it would post its first interim loss. He has warned it could take at least 18 months to return it to profitability.

In a company statement, PnP said the Ackermans’ representation on the board of directors will be reduced to three members from this year’s annual meeting. Gareth, Suzanne and Jonathan Ackerman will remain on the board. Deputy chairperson David Robins, who has served on the board for 22 years, will retire at the FY24 AGM.

The board is in the process of identifying Ackerman’s successor as non-executive chairperson.

Pick n Pay Summers

Pick n Pay Group CEO Sean Summers. (Photo: Supplied)

Suzanne Ackerman will remain as chairperson of the social, ethics and transformation committee and will retire from the nominations committee with immediate effect.

Over the next 18 months the board will be rotating or retiring long-serving non-executive directors.

Striking a positive tone, Gareth Ackerman said the family’s rights offer revealed their faith in the future of Pick n Pay: “The changes in the control structure being announced today are intended to support the business in its transformation under the leadership of CEO Sean Summers and his management team.

“The Ackerman family has for some time been considering the changing operating environment and the need for renewal at Pick n Pay, including at board level. To quote a favourite expression of my father, ‘We need to listen to the whispers of tomorrow’. The difficulty the business has found itself in recently has proved an opportune moment to accelerate the renewal process.”

Ackerman said that on a personal level he had been wanting to retire as chairperson for some time. He planned to stay on as chairperson to support the management through the transition until the publication of their FY25 results. DM


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  • Confucious Says says:

    It’s the right decision given that Gareth does not have the passion and foresight that his late father had. They simply cannot grow or adapt as long as AIH strangles the business. Hopefully Summers can bring back some of the original passion and consumer-friendliness that saw it at #1 when he started. The original directors and manages must have been very sad to see their once-shining star being so badly steered over the years!

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    Don’t know if it’s just my perception, or there is a broader malaise at play, but I find staff at Pick ‘n Pay to be the least friendly and helpful of the major supermarket groups. Maybe there is a corporate culture issue that’s not being addressed? No idea, to be honest!

    • Margi Jensen says:

      I agree. I have noticed this for along time. The staff are not customer-focused

    • Katharine Ambrose says:

      At my PnP
      The staff seem to blow hot and cold. Sometimes super friendly and at others coldly offhand. It feels like they had a pep talk? They told me there was the prospect of new management maybe a franchisee and the shifting of some of them to work in another store. They now seem fewer so that those on the floor have to double up at different parts of the shop. This makes for frustrated customers who are unpleasant to serve. The instability is also seen in the small clothing section which closed last year and then reopened without any obvious changes. I think PnP also hired staff through an agency at one point to make it easier to let people go as it was the agency’s problem. Its sad because the chain used to be flourishing with happy well paid and trained staff who had prospects . It was a model of successful retailing. What caused this slide is not clear but the deterioration has become more obvious recently. I really hope they can turn the ship around for the sake of staff and customers alike.

    • Agf Agf says:

      This has been my experience as well. Our local Pick n Pay is grimy dingie and the staff are sullen and unhelpful. Just across the road is a Checkers which is bright and light and staffed with happy helpful folk. Chalk and Cheese.

      • Hilary Morris says:

        How interesting! In Hout Bay (and most other Checkers I’ve been to), the experience is the complete opposite, with sullen, impolite and uncaring staff. There are some exceptions but on the whole, not a happy bunch. Pick ‘n Pay is largely no longer bustling, but it’s not well situated either. And much more expensive!

    • Donovan Maishman says:

      Definitely my experience too and at more than 1 store. I used to be that customer that only went to pnp, checkers have won me over with the customer service, the savings, store upgrades and the delivery of quick purchases when you have no time to go to the store. Well done checkers

  • Malcolm McManus says:

    I find PnP very expensive in my area. Also not as clean or organized as Spar. Nothing seems to flow. Its old fashioned and needs to remodel itself.

    • Mike Grace says:

      Prices are the primary problem, food items are anywhere from R1 to R10 more expensive than all the opposition, small items, under R20, like count lines are sometimes R5 more expensive. Staff shortages are also a problem, you go to the money counter and then you have to wait while they summon someone to help, by the time a staff member arrives there is a queue waiting and grumbling.
      The whole business has gone down and it is awful to shop there.

  • Very interesting and informative news

  • Ritey roo roo says:

    PnP is still my favourite shop, although I do go to Checkers for 2 items which they do not stock. It’s quite amusing to see the comments about the staff. At one time it was Checkers that had the worst, talking over you at the tills etc. and chattering amongst themselves whilst you waited.

    • Agf Agf says:

      Not anymore, that’s for sure.

    • MaverickMe says:

      30+ years ago my Mom used to tell us that she is convinced that Checkets staff were specially bred to work there. Today Checkers is one of the friendliest shops around, nothing seems to be an effort for the staff.

      As for Pnp, maybe they have taken up the grumpy staff accolade. I was not aware that “plestik” is a new form of greeting which is all you get from PnP checkout staff.

  • Nellie Dixon says:

    I am not surprised at buy products and despite the best before date.. it’s off and upon returning it.. the lousy supervisors give you a hard time as in saying take it up with the branded company. Another never ending thing their prices which are displayed are many times not what you pay at the till you only realize it once you checked your till slip you actually paid way more. Bought it up many, many times but totally a waste of time. Most of the would cashiers scan your stuff real slow and would first chat with whoever they chat to and make you wait till they done. Never! buy their specials it’s better to spend a bit more for quality and a quality service for example woolies. If PNP is shutting shut down they have their rude staff to thank.

    • Jo Redeker says:

      I bring my own strong cloth bags for my shopping. The packers have no cooking clue how to pack unless I tell them. Bakery stuff in one bag, vegetables in the next bag etc etc. They regard me as eccentric! No “plestic” for me, thanks. My nearest P&P Family store was taken over by someone else who promptly stopped the delivery service much to the annoyance of the pensioners in the many retirement villages in the area.

  • Geoff Coles says:

    Dad had business skills, the rest, nothing much. It depends on the store and I don’t see much difference in staff skills between PnP and Checkers, but both fall far short of Woolworths and Spar.
    On price Checkers much better than PnP, but no big achievement….

  • Johan Buys says:

    We live in a very fast growing part of the country, now more than 15y. In that time, PnP has added two small fuel station stores and closed one supermarket, leaving one mall supermarket in an area of about 250,000 consumers.

    They are miles behind Woolworths, Shoprite Checkers and Spar in terms of physical store presence.

  • I have also noticed staff not being very helpful but i guess they have worked there for years and has become less interested,maybe its time for new blood to step in,maybe get a new agent with plus minus 20 to 30 people per store and let them hit the stores 1 by 1 as test run and see if it makes a difference for at least year.I have been in the industry for over 30 years and maybe,just maybe,I can bring that old Pnp staff back that people so much desire to have,should you be interested,my cell is 0662426080,Glen.

  • Godfrey Parkin says:

    A fishy story: Every week for the past ten years I have bought Bismark herrings (ugh) for my father-in-law at PnP in Constantia. Every week I have to return to the deli counter several times until someone shows up to serve there. Every week I watch them drip brine into other dishes as they put herring in the container. Every week I have to ask them to wrap the dripping container. And every week, for the past ten years, they can’t find the code for Bismark herring in the system and opt to charge it as ‘exotic salad’ or ‘roll mops’ which is more expensive than marked on the dish. Then every week I have to deal with my aged father-in-law’s outrage at being ripped off by a few cents.

    I used to complain, speak to supervisors, get promises that head office is fixing the system, but nothing changed and eventually I just accepted it. It’s a small thing that becomes a major irritant and a brand detractor. It’s an indication of management indifference. Raymond would not have tolerated it.

  • PnP is where they are because of their staff and management. I stopped shopping there many years ago for this reason. They treat customers with contempt and this hasn’t changed over the years judging by most of the comments. Staff and management needs to realize that it is mutually beneficial for both parties to work together to bring success to any organization… Both parties have failed to do so… The saddest part is that PnP was once a brightly shining SA institution which now has also failed all its stakeholders.

  • Andries Jacobus Hough says:

    This is so devastating. PnP has always been my favorite Super and Hypermarket. When I was a kid going to the Gigantic PnP in Brackenfell with my mom and siblings was a major monthly event. I recall even at the smallest PnP you could find almost anything.
    But yes, things have taken a turn for the worse. I have the same experience that the staff and PnP are clueless when you ask for something and frankly does not seem to care. The PnP in Langebaan is a tragedy. It’s all very upsetting. Others like Shoprite and Checkers has sailed past PnP – seems PnP never even noticed until much much later.
    An iconic supermarket group and childhood retailer reduced to nothing by the affliction that seems to flourish in South Africa: Incompetente

  • Oinky doinky says:

    Having worked at the Pick n Pay head office, this news brings mixed emotions, but one word springs to mind: KARMA. The division I worked in, the “C” division, was headed by a tyrant. There was a high turnover of talented staff, with most mentioning how toxic and sexist the office space was. Many people have walked out and turned their backs on Pick n Pay. I would rather drive 20 minutes further than give them a cent!

  • Barry Messenger says:

    It is very sad to see the decline of PnP, they had their time in the sun but the world changes.
    I am pleased to see AIH and Gareth Ackerman step back, even if they had no choice, a good example for many others in our country…!
    I wish the new management all the best in working to retrieve their sustainability.

  • Selwyn Lange says:

    Raymond Ackerman was a very special person. In the mid 80’s we did our weekly shopping at the (then) PnP head office in Protea rd. Quite a few times Raymond would be there talking to till assistants as well as customers – and he NEVER forgot you! When last did a store manger come and greet you?

  • Colin Braude says:

    Don’t want to quibble, but Raymond Ackerman did not establish Pick n Pay; he bought it as a small chain from Harry Goldin, who later founded Clicks. Under R Ackerman’s stewardship, PnP knocked spots off Checkers (with whom he’d had a spat), but lately Checkers has fought back, especially with its delivery service. Woollies also seems to be losing its edge.

    Viva the competition.

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