SOUTH AFRICA – As Walmart strengthens its commitment to its South African unit – Massmart, through acquisition of additional stake, the retail chain is set for a change of guard.

The retailer has announced that its current CEO, Mitchell Slape, will step down from his role on 31 December 2022, to be succeeded by the company’s current Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Molapo effective 1 January 2023.

The Walmart veteran, joined the group since 1995 and had extensive leadership experience across a range of retail formats and markets, including the United States, Japan, India and Mexico.

Mitchell took over the reins of the South African retail chain in 2019 and played a key role in initiating Massmart’s turnaround.

His notable achievements include resetting the cost base by removing R1.9 billion (US$112m) in non-payroll costs, leading the disposal of non-core assets, rationalising the Group-wide supply chain, revitalising the Game store proposition and initiating an intensified e-commerce investment programme.

Massmart Board, Chairman Kuseni Dlamini said, “I would like to thank Mitch on behalf of the Massmart Board for his immense commitment and contribution to Massmart under the most difficult of circumstances.

“The actions taken by the management team under his guidance have resulted in the successful delivery of more than 30 turnaround projects. Massmart is a better more focused business thanks to the leadership provided by Mitch.”

Slape didn’t reveal his future career plans but congratulated his successor stating, “Jonathan and I have worked together closely for the past eight months and share views on the way forward.

“The past three years have been demanding and the time is right to handover to a new leader, to guide the Group through the next phase of its evolution.”

Molapo, who joined Massmart in January as chief operating office, has strong executive and international leadership experience.

Prior to taking his current role, he was Chief Executive Officer of Astron Energy from June 2018 to December 2021.

He has also held executive leadership positions in leading companies such as Puma Energy and Total SA Group.

During his time with these organisations Molapo was exposed to all aspects of the value chain gaining experience in the full range of commercial and retail functions, including the ongoing rollout of Total’s retail forecourt stores.

He also had the opportunity to work across various geographies, including France and Ghana.

“This is a wonderful moment for Massmart as we recognise top local talent to lead the company in its next phase of development.

“Jonathan’s appointment has been part of a well-thought-out succession plan that started with his recruitment to the role of Massmart Chief Operating Officer in January 2022, which provided the opportunity for him to establish strong relationships with Walmart and his Massmart colleagues,” said Dlamini.

Molapo has a BA Economics from Laurentian University, Canada and has completed the International Executive Programme at the Insead Business School in France.

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