In a somber announcement, South African retail giant Pick n Pay shared the news that its founder Raymond Ackerman has passed away at the age of 92. Ackerman, a retail legend and visionary entrepreneur, not only left an indelible mark on the business landscape but also touched the hearts of many as a humanitarian known for his philanthropic work.
“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” the company said on X, formerly Twitter, in a statement.
Beginning his life in Cape Town, Ackerman began working in the retail chain of the same name founded by his father. Its subsequent sale in 1946 paved the way for the birth of another massive supermarket chain – Checkers. In 1967, Ackerman himself began his own retail empire, purchasing four stores that would eventually bear the name Pick n Pay.
With investor support, the chain rapidly expanded across the country, transforming the South African retail landscape, with more than 2,000 stores in operation today. The company also boasts a market cap of almost $1 billion.
His incredible business acumen let Ackerman pioneer several innovations now commonplace in the South African retail market, such as ‘no name’ food brands and in-store banking at retail outlets.
Condolences poured in from all corners of South African society, with politicians, celebrities and citizens alike sharing messages.
“… he left an enormous legacy,” said John Steenhuisen, leader of the Democratic Alliance. “His positive contribution to our society will be his legacy.”
Ackerman was equally known beyond the brick and mortar of his businesses for his philanthropic endeavors, actively championing fuel price deregulation, and founding the Raymond Ackerman Academy for Entrepreneurial Development in collaboration with the Universities of Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Ackerman received the CNBC Africa All Africa Business Leaders Awards’ Lifetime Achievement award in 2011.
In a poignant reflection shared when he celebrated his 90th birthday in 2021, Ackerman acknowledged South Africa’s challenges but remained hopeful. He saw a resilient nation in the midst of adversity, citing the resilience and compassion displayed by its people as a beacon of hope for the future.
As South Africa bids farewell to Ackerman, the retail industry and the nation as a whole mourn the loss of a visionary leader, philanthropist, and patriot. His life’s journey exemplified the power of perseverance, innovation, and a commitment to a brighter future.