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Pieter Boone out as Pick n Pay CEO, shares crash 10% on loss warning

Pieter Boone has stepped down as CEO of Pick n Pay, less than two and half-years into the role, after the board decided that a change in leadership was needed to get the retailer back “on the right trajectory”.

“Unfortunately, in a very difficult environment, the performance of our core Pick n Pay business has been very challenging over the past months, and has not met expectations. Pieter accepts that the board has decided on a change in leadership. He leaves us with our heartfelt thanks and best wishes for the future,” board chair Gareth Ackerman said in a statement on Monday.

Pick n Pay, valued at about R17 billion on the JSE, also flagged that it had swung into a loss in its half-year to 27 August, hit by increased competition, load shedding and a weak consumer economy.

In morning trade on Monday Pick n Pay’s shares crashed almost 11% and have now lost more than 44% on a one-year basis.

Pick n Pay announced Boone’s appointment in January 2021, and he took over from Richard Brasher in April that year. Boone’s resignation was effective immediately.

Sean Summers, who was Pick n Pay CEO from 1999 to 2007, returned to the role with immediate effect, with the goal of turning around the core business. Pick n Pay pioneer Raymond Ackerman, who died in September, previously described Summers as “an excellent leader, who achieved remarkable things at Pick n Pay”.

“We are delighted that Sean is coming back to Pick n Pay. His knowledge and experience is 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,” Gareth Ackerman said.

“Sean is an inspirational leader. He will galvanise our teams, energise them to give everything for our customers, and delight the communities we serve.”

There will be a short handover period between Boone and Summers.

Summers said that the best way he could honour Raymond Ackerman’s memory was to “put Pick n Pay back onto its rightful path to growth and success.”

“I worked closely with Gareth for many years, and we will make a great team together.”

Pick n Pay said in July, in a trading update covering the 16 weeks to 24 July and the first half of the 2024 financial year, that it faced abnormal costs totalling R610 million, compared to the almost R672 million in profit in its prior half-year.

All these costs meant it was likely to report a first-half loss “at the earnings, headline earnings and pro forma headline earnings level”. –

Update: This article has been updated with the reaction of Pick n Pay’s shares.