Retail entrepreneur and founder of Pick n Pay, Raymond Ackerman, has died. He was 92 years old.
The entrepreneur, visionary and humanitarian died at the age of 92.
In an X [formely Twitter] post on Thursday morning, Pick n Pay – the company Ackerman founded in 1967 with his wife Wendy – expressed “profound sadness” regarding the death of “a visionary entrepreneur, humanitarian and a great South African”.
Added Pick n Pay: “Our country has lost a brilliant patriot who always saw a positive future for South Africa.”
After graduating from the University of Cape Town with a Bachelor of Commerce, he joined the Greatermans group in the Ackermans division in 1951 at the age of 20 as a trainee manager. Ackermans had been founded just after World War I by his father Gus, but was sold to the Greatermans group in 1940.
Ackerman was eventually offered a position at Greatermans head office in Johannesburg. In the early 1950s, food retailing supermarkets first began to appear on the scene in South Africa. Norman Herber, chairman of Greatermans decided to start a food retailer called Checkers. Ackerman was eventually put in charge of Checkers, making a resounding success of the business.
Ackerman won the Outstanding Young South African award in 1965, along with Gary Player and by 1966, at the age of 35, he was the managing director of 85 Checkers stores; however, he was fired in the same year. In response, using his severance pay and a bank loan, Ackerman bought four stores in Cape Town trading under the name Pick ‘n Pay. Under his leadership, Pick ‘n Pay eventually grew into one of Africa’s largest supermarket chains, with a thirty seven billion Rand turnover (2006 figure) and more than 124 supermarkets, 14 hypermarkets and 179 franchised outlets. The Pick ‘n Pay Group e
With profound sadness we announce that Pick n Pay founder Raymond Ackerman has passed away.
A visionary entrepreneur, humanitarian and a great South African. Our country has lost a brilliant patriot who always saw a positive future for South Africa.
‘ Pick n Pay (@PicknPay) September 7, 2023
He gained a strong reputation as a consumer advocate, fiercely combating supplier cartels in various sectors, including bread, petrol, and cigarettes.
In 2010, Ackerman retired and passed the chairman’s responsibilities to his son, Gareth. At that time, Pick n Pay was operating 20 hypermarkets and 402 supermarkets throughout South Africa, with a group turnover of nearly 50 billion rand ($2.60 billion).
Forbes estimated Ackerman’s net worth to be approximately $500 million in 2015. Today, Pick n Pay boasts an annual turnover of 106 billion rand and owns more than 2,000 stores across South Africa and seven other African countries.
In a detailed statement, also issued on Thursday morning, Pick n Pay said that “from the outset, [Raymond Ackerman] – considered one of the country’s most successful entrepreneurs – lived by the core values that the customer is queen and that doing good is good business”.
The group added that he was always dedicated “to giving customers the best possible products, the best possible value, and the best possible service in his stores”.
Pick n Pay also highlighted how he would stop and ask customers walking home with shopping bags from rival stores why they had not shopped at Pick n Pay.
However, he was “about much more than shopping,” said Pick n Pay, describing him as “a compassionate employer and a committed philanthropist”.
He was “a man of the people,” the group noted, who was “never too busy or too proud to make time for others”.