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News > OD's in Business > Retail Rockstars - the names behind our shopping carts

Retail Rockstars - the names behind our shopping carts

Here are five that you may know.
Pick n Pay, Spar, The Crazy Store and Mr Price are some family favourites
Pick n Pay, Spar, The Crazy Store and Mr Price are some family favourites

In South Africa, every family knows at least one or more of these well-known retailers, but it's the people behind these brands and shops who work hard to make them successful in the ever-changing business world. Do you know which of our ODs are behind your shopping experience?  Here are 5 of the titans:

1. Sean Summers (1972W): A Homecoming at Pick n Pay

Sean Summers has recently been appointed as CEO of Pick n Pay. Sean is returning from abroad to fulfil this role.  He previously served the Pick n Pay Group for over three decades, from 1974 to 2007. His journey within the company saw him rise through the ranks, culminating in his appointment as Managing Director in 1996 and CEO in 1999. During his tenure, Pick n Pay established itself as the clear market leader in South African grocery retailing.

Over the coming weeks, Sean will spend time analysing the business and meeting staff and customers. Gareth Ackerman (1975S), chairman of the Pick n Pay Group, said: 

'We are delighted that Sean is coming back to Pick n Pay. His knowledge and experience are unrivalled. He is passionate about getting Pick n Pay back on to the right trajectory, and winning the trust and confidence of customers new and old. He is absolutely the right person for the job at this time'.

Sean had the following to say about his return: 

'I am very excited to be coming home to Pick n Pay. Retailing is my passion, and this company is in my blood. I have great excitement and energy for the task ahead. I look forward to leading the Group back to the position it deserves.'

Pick n Pay pioneer Raymond Ackerman (1948S), who died in September, previously described Summers as "an excellent leader who achieved remarkable things at Pick n Pay". 

2. Gareth Ackerman (1975S) - Continuing a Legacy of Excellence

Gareth Ackerman, the torchbearer of his late father's legacy, is the next generation in his family to lead the way. Building on the foundation of his father's vision, Gareth has demonstrated exceptional leadership at the helm of the Pick n Pay Group. Under his guidance, the company continues to thrive and innovate in the South African retail landscape, earning the trust and confidence of customers old and new alike.

3. Mike Bosman (1978O) - Adding Value at Spar as Chairman of the Board 

Mike Bosman has just this month (1st October) returned to being the independent, non-executive Chairman of the Board of SPAR after acting as interim CEO. In an announcement made last month, the company said:

Mike Bosman will continue to serve as the independent, non-executive Chairman on the company’s major foreign subsidiary boards. He will work closely alongside the newly appointed CEO (Mr Swartz) to ensure a seamless transition for Mr Swartz in his new role as CEO. 

Mike is known at SPAR for his sound strategic and operational leadership skills.

4. Laurie Chiappini (1961O) - The Mr. Price Success Story

Laurie Chiappini, has made a remarkable impact on South Africa's retail scene. His success story is intricately linked to the growth of the Mr. Price, retail empire.

It all started in Durban when two friends, who began their journey on the shop floor, turned one idea into a shared vision. Laurie met Stewart Cohen in 1979, and together they became the founders of Mr Price.  Their relationship was based on mutual trust and a positive vision for the future of retail.  Chiappini's journey, serves as an inspiring example of how dedication, innovation, and a commitment to customer satisfaction can lead to immense success. 

Today, there are  more than 1700 corporate-owned stores in Southern Africa, just over 24 franchised stores abroad, and it also has its online channels.

5. 'Crazy' Kevin - Kevin Lennet (1984O) of The Crazy Store

Over the past 11 years, Kevin Lennet has been at the helm of the Crazy Store. As Managing Director, he has successfully steered the retail chain through its journey of growth. Together with his team, they've worked hard to transform its reputation from being associated with 'cheap goods' to becoming a trusted shopping choice for all. Their strategy involved introducing a wide range of high-quality products, all offered at fantastic value.

In 2017, Kevin was asked the following question during an interview: ‘Who has had the biggest impact on your career?’  His answer was very interesting:

One would be Raymond Ackerman, [from] Pick n Pay. And the second would be Laurie Chiappini – he was the founder of Mr Price. I followed them in their careers and that. I’ve grown up in retail, I’ve been closely looking at what they do – and from a Laurie Chiappini perspective, in the key times of my retail growth as a person, I used to go and visit him and we would chat about things. He’d give me lots of insight that he gained from his own experiences, which are very relevant.

These five individuals really embody the essence of entrepreneurship, leadership, and a commitment to being excellent at what they do. Their stories serve as a great reminder that success in the business world is within reach when you've got passion, dedication, and a strong grasp of your field. 

Congratulations to Sean Summers, Gareth Ackerman, Mike Bosman, Laurie Chiappini, Kevin Lennet, and all our ODs in business for their ongoing contributions to the South African economy. You inspire us all to aim high and contribute to the growth and prosperity of our great nation.

A note to all ODs in business

The ODU supports all ODs in business and encourages you to become part of the ODU Business and Professional Network, where you can share knowledge and professionally connect in support of each other.  You can also seek out a mentor or offer to mentor young ODs looking to succeed in business and life.  Join the Business and Professional Network to have your business profile published.

We would also encourage all our ODs in business to join the OD Forum on LinkedIn, where you can share your successes and progress with our community.  To join that group, click on THIS LINK.


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