Massmart CEO Shares Business Insights After 100 Days at the Helm

Having taken over the role of Massmart CEO on September 1st, Walmart appointee, Mitchell Slape has shared some of the insights he has gathered during his first 100 days at the South African retailer.

The timing of his appointment necessitated a “hit the ground running” approach as it coincided with final preparations for Black Friday and Festive season promotions. Reviewing plans, and ensuring readiness, for these significant retail events was a matter of priority for Slape. This saw him visiting stores around the country to evaluate their final preparations and ensure their ability to execute the best possible shopping experience for customers.

Speaking at a year-end media lunch, Slape recounted his first South African Black Friday experience, “I was on the ground at our flagship Mall of Africa Game store in Johannesburg as the doors opened at midnight. It was remarkable to see first-hand the positive impact that the availability of merchandise at the right price can have for our customers. A great example of ‘saving our customers money so that they can live better.’”

Slape used the example of the 261 Camp Master cooler box to illustrate the value of keen pricing and the broader benefits of the private label brand. “It was incredible to see that the blue Camp Master cooler box was ubiquitous in the trolleys of Massmart customers during Black Friday. As a group, we chose to provide price support for the product in order to retail the cooler for R99, which provided a significant boost to the supplier’s volumes. We are delighted to see that this product was in the top 5 bestselling items at our stores this Black Friday” says Slape. Locally made in Stutterheim in the Eastern Cape by Ikusasa Green, a small black-owned manufacturer, this is an excellent example of the success of the Massmart Supplier Development Programme.

Slape went on to discuss his objective to ‘build the strongest and healthiest, diversified retail group with the best long term prospects on the continent’. He noted that this would be measured through an improvement in EBIT.

He also described the introduction of two initiatives to stimulate immediate term business impact.

We’re Unbeatable Together is geared towards breaking down divisional and brand silos to get the group working together to optimally leverage its procurement scale to ensure Massmart is able to get the best deals for customers from its suppliers.

Every Rand Matters and the 50x rule sets about improving Massmart’s cost control through leveraging Walmart expertise and experience in improving indirect expense management to develop a very low cost mentality. “During my career with Walmart, I have learnt that cost control isn’t just about saving money, but taking sales pressure off the stores.”

Elaborating on the concept he said, “Simply put, for every Rand spent at the head office, Massmart stores have to generate R50 in sales to recover this cost.”

Regarding the future of Massmart, Slape indicated that he and the management team are working on a turnaround plan for the Group that will include revitalizing the Game Customer Value Proposition.

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