The man running Africa’s biggest retailer

When Pieter Engelbrecht took over as Shoprite’s CEO in 2017, he had big shoes to fill. He was up to the task. Under his leadership, Africa’s largest retailer has gone from strength to strength.

Engelbrecht’s predecessor, Whitey Basson, is generally considered one of the best CEOs in South Africa’s history.

During his tenure, Basson transformed Shoprite from a small, eight-store grocer into the largest private employer in Africa with over 3,500 stores.

Under Basson, Shoprite became the biggest grocery retailer in Africa and one of the most profitable retailers in South Africa. 

Basson had run Shoprite since the 1980s, and when he stepped down in 2016, many wondered who could fill his shoes.

Engelbrecht took over in 2017, and under him, the retailer flourished. Today, Shoprite is the market leader among South Africa’s grocery retailers, with a significant market share and consistent profitability.

According to Shoprite’s website, Engelbrecht’s leadership has been characterised by the retailer’s mission to be Africa’s most affordable, accessible, and innovative retailer, driven by a focus on innovation. 

This drive for innovation has led Checkers to refresh its fresh and convenient sector, establish booming loyalty programs through Shoprite & Checkers Xtra Savings, offer speedy Sixty60 delivery and virtual vouchers, and expand Usave stores.

Under Engelbrecht’s leadership, Shoprite navigated the Covid-19 pandemic while prioritising employee well-being, product availability, and customer safety.

This resulted in increased sales, profitability, and market share, solidifying Shoprite’s position as Africa’s leading food retailer and South Africa’s top private employer.

Whitey Basson

Pieter Engelbrecht’s road to Shoprite CEO

Engelbrecht is a chartered accountant with an Honours in Accounting Science from UNISA and a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) from Stellenbosch University. 

From 1993 to 1995, he gained experience in RicewaterhouseCoopers’ auditing and corporate finance divisions. Following this, he was the accounting and operations manager at Harwill Industries until joining Shoprite in April 1997.

Engelbrecht spent ten years leading the retailer’s project office, establishing new brands and building many into multi-billion rand businesses. 

He launched the Money Market financial service counter, USave and LiquorShop and led the acquisitions of Computicket and Transpharm Pharmaceutical Wholesalers.

He was appointed to Shoprite Checkers’s board in 2003, and he served as an Alternate Director of Shoprite Holdings and as its Chief Operating Officer (COO) in 2005.

As COO, Engelbrecht strived to drive down costs and played a pivotal role in guiding the retailer’s expansion.

He was instrumental in Shoprite’s remaining the number one retailer in Africa and was appointed CEO on 1 January 2017.

Shoprite’s performance under Pieter Engelbrecht

Under Engelbrecht’s leadership, Shoprite is achieving industry-leading growth in sales and profits in a trading environment which has presented unprecedented challenges.

“I have been privileged to lead the Shoprite Group from small beginnings to one of the continent’s greatest companies,” Basson said when his retirement was announced  

“After so many years with the group, it’s time to pass the baton to a new generation of leadership.”

“Given the quality of Shoprite’s current management team and their exceptional track record, I foresee that the company will continue to grow from strength to strength.” 

Basson’s optimism was well-placed as Shoprite continued to grow rapidly after his departure. 

The retailer’s revenue, income, and equity increased significantly during Engelbrecht’s tenure, and its market share has risen to almost 40% while other retailers have declined.

Below is an overview of Shoprite’s performance under Engelbrecht.


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