A new museum has opened in Kenilworth that not only documents the history of one of South Africa’s most successful businesses, it also shows how retail technology, advertising – and even our currency – have changed in the past 50 years.
At a special ceremony attended by current and former staff, business partners and board members, the Pick n Pay Museum was unveiled at the company’s Kenilworth headquarters this week.
This museum tells the story of how Raymond Ackerman founded the supermarket in 1967 after resigning from his job as general manager of Checkers and moving from Johannesburg to Cape Town.
He acquired four small stores to start what became a supermarket empire.
Mr Ackerman served as the company’s executive chairman until he retired in 2010.
Also on display are examples of how store technology, like cash registers, card machines and typewriters – and the South African currency – have changed over the years.
Not ignoring the significant role played by the media in recording history, the museum also features a display of newspaper articles about the company which have been published over the past 51 years, as well as television screens showing Pick * Pay commercials.
Mr Ackerman was there to cut the ribbon with his wife, Wendy Ackerman, and his daughter, Suzanne Ackerman-Berman. Ms Ackerman-Berman, who is the transformation director at Pick n Pay, said it was important to acknowledge Pick * Pay’s 51-year journey. “I think in life it is always important to acknowledge where we come from, whether it is a family, whether it is a business, whether it is a country – and Pick n Pay encompasses all that,” she said.
“We are a family business that has been part of the building blocks of the fabric of South Africa. It is important to celebrate this amazing legacy.”
Also at the event was Stanley Nongogo who became Pick n Pay’s first black store manager, and worked for the company for 33 years before retiring in 1994.
“Pick n Pay had a man at the helm who’s got people at heart,” said Mr Nongogo.
“He is a man who believed more in people than the business, and he knew that the people would deliver for him.”
Bernard Beukes, who retired in 2016, started out as a porter in 1972 and worked his way up to a store manager in 1988. When he started, he said, “there were only four or five stores at that time”.
“We were a very close, warm family. We stuck together, and we looked after our customers, and every time Mr Ackerman found a new site, we would go with him where he would use the golden spade to make his mark for the next store,” said Mr Beukes.
Elizabeth Walters worked for Pick n Pay for 31 years – first in catering in Epping before moving to the canteen at the Kenilworth headquarters. She said the company had been very supportive when it came to helping the family of staff.
Sylvester Mofokeng, who started as a shelf-packer in 1987, before becoming a store manager in 1992 and Eastern Cape regional general manager in 2007, currently owns two Pick n Pay franchises.
Speaking about how the company assisted in his growth, he said: “It is because of the policy of promoting from within. We almost never looked for people with MBAs. We looked at our own people. If you were keen and had the right attitude to do the job, Pick n Pay would help you to get where you wanted to be in terms of your dreams,” said Mr Mofokeng.
Pick n Pay’s CEO Richard Brasher thanked the Ackerman family, staff and business partners for sharing their “living history”.
* The museum is open to the public. Call 021 658 3160 to arrange a tour.