/ 10 March 2010

Raymond Ackerman hands over to son Gareth

Raymond Ackerman, the founder and until now the chairperson of Pick n Pay, handed the keys to his kingdom to his older son Gareth on Wednesday, his 79th birthday.

Raymond is, of course, finding it difficult after all this time to give up entirely and intends to offer advice, but at a meeting with the media in the firm’s Cape Town headquarters, Gareth insisted that the old man was going on a long holiday.

“In any case, we have 700 stores in this country, and he wants to visit every one of them,” Gareth said, wistfully.

Raymond said he was not keen to leave, and really would have liked to stay until he was 84 or 85, but he had received advice on running a family business from an American company, and it convinced him that he should hand over the reins while he was still fit and healthy, and not be forced to do it in a crisis.

“Don’t wait until your health fails,” he was told. “Show confidence in handing over to your successors — it’s good for the share price.”

Raymond also said that he would have liked to have left at a better economic time, but that there is a five-year plan ahead for the company. “It’s not an easy time,” he admitted. “But we are confident about the next five years.”

The Ackerman family also sees difficulties ahead for family-owned stores.

Gareth pointed out: “Changes in global governance militate against family ownership,” while his father added that the rules on black economic empowerment made it even more difficult in this country.

Raymond said that the company is proud of its 300 or so franchise outlets that are doing good work in black empowerment, but they don’t officially count as empowerment in the government rulebook.

Raymond was adamant about one thing, however: “I don’t want to make 5% profit on sales,” he said. “Three percent to 3,5% is enough. If we make more than that we should cut prices.” — I-Net Bridge