Shoprite names first female Chair Wendy Lucas-Bull, ending Christo Wiese’s reign

SOUTH AFRICA – Shoprite’s long-serving Chairman Christo Wiese will retire as the chair of the retail chain in November after four decades at the helm.

Wiese, has been Shoprite’s chairperson since 1979 when his Pep Stores acquired the food retailer, growing it from a small supermarket chain with eight stores to the pan-African food retailer that it is today, reports Fin24.

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He will step down from his position after the company’s annual general meeting (AGM) scheduled for the 16th of November, but will remain on the board as a non-executive director.

His retirement was first announced in November last year after 61.2% of shareholders voted against his re-appointment as a chairman in the 2019 AGM.

They also were of the view that in line with good corporate governance, the next group chairperson should be independent, which was also supported by Wiese, who is also the second largest shareholder at Shoprite.

The move follows the former billionaire’s controversial re-election, after he got only 28% of ordinary shareholder votes to back him as chair and a last-minute attempt to vote an independent shareholder on to the board to counterbalance Wiese’s power.

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At that meeting Wiese used his shares, which have extra voting rights, to continue his stint as chairperson, despite shareholders who held more than 61% of the shares opposing his reappointment.

The grocery chain has to this end appointed Absa Group chairwoman Wendy Lucas-Bull as chair designate to replace Wiese.

“There is no doubt her expertise, experience and leadership will be of considerable benefit to both the board and the Shoprite Group.”

Shoprite Chairman Christo Wiese

According to Reuters, Lucas-Bull has extensive banking and widespread sector experience as a chairperson and non-executive director on numerous company boards across multiple industries in both the private and public sector.

“There is no doubt her expertise, experience and leadership will be of considerable benefit to both the board and the Shoprite Group,” Wiese said.

The retail company, reported that the group’s sales of merchandise rose by 6.4% to a record R156.9 billion (US$9.2bn) for the year ended June 2020 despite the Covid-19 upsets.

In the year under review, the company says that despite the significant COVID-19 lockdown restrictions impacting it to varying degrees, its core Supermarkets Republic of South Africa (RSA) operating segment increased sales by 8.7%, representing a R9.8 billion (US$577m) increase to R122.4 billion (US$7.2bn).

On the other hand, its Non-RSA outlets continuing operations’ sales declined by 1.4% in rand terms, however, it increased by 6.6% in constant currency terms.

The supermarket chain is pulling the plug on its non-performing operations such as Kenya and Nigeria while also reviewing its long-term options in Angola and Zambia.

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