/ 7 September 2023

Pick n Pay founder and retail pioneer Raymond Ackerman dies

Raymond Ackerman
Pick n Pay founder Raymond Ackerman.

Pick n Pay founder and retail legend Raymond Ackerman has died at age 92.

Ackerman, who founded Pick n Pay in 1967 along with his wife Wendy, was described as a “visionary South African” by the retail group in a statement released early on Thursday morning. 

“From the outset, he lived by the core values that the customer is queen, that we must treat others as we would wish to be treated, and that doing good is good business,” the statement reads. 

“These values have guided the business for over 56 years, and today the Pick n Pay group serves millions of customers in more than 2 000 stores across South Africa and seven other African countries.”

Ackerman bought four small stores in Cape Town trading under the name Pick ‘n Pay for R620 000 after he was fired from the Greatermans Group in 1966 for wanting to lower prices for customers. He used his two weeks’ severance pay, a bank loan, a modest inheritance and shares purchased by friends to start what would eventually become his retail empire.

“Almost immediately,” according to Thursday’s statement, “Ackerman launched the first of his many campaigns against monopolies and price-fixing, instantly earning the animosity of competitors and the loyalty of his customers.”

In September 1968, Pick n Pay went public and was listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

Ackerman, whose father founded the clothing retailer of the same name in 1916, handed the chairmanship of Pick n Pay over to his son, Gareth, in 2010. By the time Ackerman retired, the retail group was operating 20 hypermarkets and 402 supermarkets across South Africa with a turnover of almost R50 billion.

According to the group’s 2023 annual financial statements for the 52 weeks ended 26 February, its turnover has more than doubled since, increasing to R106.6 billion.