RETAILING: New Step In Pep
Recent Western Cape Business News
SPRAWLING retailer Pep – controlled by Cape retail tycoon Christo Wiese - will not be looking ‘outside’ for a replacement for retiring MD George Steyn, who has served the company for over a quarter of a century.
Last month Pep named Leon Lourens – another company ‘long-timer’ – as Steyn’s successor with effect from the end of this month. Lourens, currently Pep’s operations and sales director, has been with Pep for over two decades.
Still, Lourens has large boots to fill with Steyn having built a formidable reputation in recent years as Pep’s profits and market share surged.
Under Steyn’s guidance Pep’s operating profit has trebled and the company has enjoyed uninterrupted double digit turnover and operating profit growth in the last five years.
Pep has also grown to more than 1 600 stores with over 16 000 employees, and – more importantly - grown its market share by more than 4% a year.
To put that in perspective, Pep – the biggest single brand retailer in Africa - captures over 240 million transactions and sells 600 million items every year (including being the biggest retailer of cellular products).
Perhaps reassuringly, Lourens has indicated that, given Pep’s success over the last few years, he will not at this stage look to make any drastic changes “other than to respond to what the market dictates”.
Lourens stresses ‘business simplicity’ and argues that the strategy of the company must be patently clear and understandable.
“We should improve the business for the benefit of our customers and this, in turn, should translate in the price, the shopping experience and the services that we provide.”
One thing in Lourens’ favour is that he does know Pep inside out, having served in a variety of positions in his 22 year tenure with the Parow-headquartered company.
Aside from his role as operations and sales director, he has served as a personnel manager, project manager, a regional manager and the manager of foreign operations at the start of Pep’s expansion into Africa.
Lourens also spent two years in Saudi Arabia before returning to Pep and being appointed as divisional manager and operations director.
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