Pick n Pay CEO calls for liquor ban to be lifted

Social unrest, looting and damage has dealt a further body blow to liquor traders

Following the damage done by riots, looting and arson in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng last week, Pick n Pay Group CEO Pieter Boone has appealed to the government to lift the liquor ban to help traders recover.

Boone said Pick n Pay had updated stakeholders earlier this week on damage to Pick n Pay and Boxer stores and infrastructure as a result of last week’s social unrest and looting.

“In total, 136 of our food, grocery, clothing and building stores were looted and/or burned, along with 76 liquor stores, across KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.  Two Pick n Pay distribution centres in KZN were also severely damaged,” he said.

The scale and the nature of the destruction is heart-breaking.

“Following up on my visit last week, I have spent yesterday and today on the ground in Gauteng and KZN, visiting our damaged stores, and meeting affected staff members, franchise partners and other stakeholders.  The scale and the nature of the destruction is heart-breaking.  But I have been inspired by the progress made by our Pick n Pay and Boxer teams in the noble task of cleaning up, rebuilding, and restocking our stores – getting them ready to welcome customers again.  The progress since I was here last week is massive.  Every day, our teams are accelerating their progress and shortening their timescales.

Boone initially said the Pick n Pay Group would reopen 32 of their 136 looted or damaged stores by the end of this week, but was pleased to give an update that by the end of next week, the total number of reopened stores – Pick n Pay and Boxer – would rise to 58.

“I have also visited the two Pick n Pay distribution centres in Pinetown, KZN, which were both looted and severely damaged.  The progress in repairing and restocking both is remarkable, and we will soon have a fully restored supply chain network,” he said.

“I am seeing amazing progress in such a short time.  My thanks go to my colleagues across Pick n Pay and Boxer, our franchise partners, and our vendors, equipment and other suppliers.

A large amount of looted liquor was released into the illicit market.

“Speaking to franchisees and independent traders in the affected areas, I firmly believe that it is time now for the president to announce a lifting of the ban on liquor sales.  We have hopefully passed the peak of the Covid-19 third wave.  In normal times, many independent shopkeepers depend on responsible liquor sales to sustain their businesses, and will not survive another prolonged ban.  The social unrest, looting, and damage has dealt them a further body blow – as well as releasing a large amount of looted liquor into the illicit market.

“Lifting the ban will be widely welcomed across the country as a positive and responsible step forward in our recovery from the events of last week,” he said.

“We are working very hard in anticipation of this step. By the end of next week, we will have repaired and be ready to reopen 28 of our 76 severely damaged liquor stores in KZN and Gauteng.

“Last week I said that South Africa was bloodied but unbowed.  This week, everywhere I have been, I have seen the strength and determination of people to rise from the crisis and build a better tomorrow.”

 

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