Pick n Pay founder Raymond Ackerman dies

Pick n Pay founder and retail visionary Raymond Ackerman has died at the age of 92. He is survived by his wife, children, 12 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Raymond Ackerman founded Pick n Pay in 1967, along with Wendy, after buying four stores in Cape Town. 

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. 

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 Africa.

His business philosophy was underpinned by the “four legs of the table” – Administration, Social responsibility and Marketing, People, and Merchandise.

He came from a retailing family, with his father having founded Ackermans after World War 1.

From the beginning, Ackerman was dedicated to giving customers the best possible products, the best possible value, and the best possible service in his stores. 

He would stop and ask customers walking home with shopping bags from rival stores why they had not shopped at Pick n Pay.

In 1986, Pick n Pay mounted a successful court challenge against the government’s prohibition of a petrol coupon scheme, giving customers grocery discount coupons with petrol purchases.

Pick n Pay fought over 26 rounds with the government on petrol price cutting and lost each time.

However, Raymond Ackerman was about much more than shopping. He was a compassionate employer and a committed philanthropist. 

He became a prominent champion of equal opportunity policies and merit-based salaries and wages and was increasingly critical of the government’s homeland policy.

In 1989, Raymond Ackerman and a group of businessmen met newly appointed President FW de Klerk in Pick n Pay’s Cape Town office. 

The group told De Klerk that Nelson Mandela should be released as soon as possible and that apartheid legislation should be scrapped. 

Ackerman met Nelson Mandela numerous times after his release, and the two established a warm relationship.

He was the driving force behind the bid to bring the 2004 Olympic Games to Cape Town, dedicating considerable energy and funding to the initiative.

In 2004, he established the Raymond Ackerman Academy for Entrepreneurial Development in partnership with UCT, which the University of Johannesburg later joined.

The Academy has produced hundreds of new business owners, many offering employment to others, while well over 400 of its graduates are now actively employed.

Over the years, Raymond Ackerman was honoured by many institutions for his services to both business and society.

In their retirement from the Pick n Pay Stores Limited board in 2010, Raymond and Wendy became Honorary Life Presidents.

He maintained an active interest in Pick n Pay and his philanthropy projects.

A product of Bishops Diocesan College in Cape Town, he was President and then the patron of the Old Diocesan Union. He received seven honorary doctorates from local and international universities.

Raymond Ackerman was an avid and, at one stage, a scratch golfer and was incredibly close to the Clovelly Golf Club.