How A Former South African Lawyer Built A Billion Dollar Supermarket Chain
Having a desire to succeed, and doing what it takes to come out successful are two entirely different things. While a desire is the first step, a greater step that is required would take all you’ve got from your commitment to perseverance, investment, time, and more to achieve your goals. Without giving it your all, you will never be successful, but when you pay your dues to the universe, the results will always be amazing.
This is the success story of Christoffel Wiese, a former lawyer who believed he could achieve something remarkable in a new industry, set out to do it, and did it anyway. He is the chairman and majority shareholder of the Shoprite supermarket chain and PEP stores, and in the process, built a billion-dollar business.
Here’s how he did it:
Early Life And Education Of Christoffel Wiese
Christoffel Wiese was born on the 10th September 1941 in South Africa. After his primary education, he joined the Paarl Boys high school in the Western Cape region of South Africa, after which he proceeded to Stellenbosch University where he obtained BA, LLB degrees.
Journey To Entrepreneurship
Christoffel Wiese didn’t start his entrepreneurial journey immediately after his education. He first worked as a lawyer at Cape bar for some years after which he then joined Pepkor, his family’s discount clothin chain business in South Africa.
The business was founded in 1965 and was an investment holding company with interests spread across Africa, Poland, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Slovakia, and Romania.
Christoffel Wiese started working in the company as a Director, a position he held from 1967-1973.
In 1981 Christoffel Wiese acquired 44% of the company’s shares and he was appointed the company’s chairman
As chairman of Pepkor Limited, Wiese spearheaded some outstanding managerial decisions which led to the acquisition of Ackermans clothing line in 1986.
After leading the company to a series of wins, Christoffel Wiese decided to list Pepkor on the Johannesburg’s Stock Exchange as PEP Limited, the company then went further to acquire retail chains, Checkers, Cashbuild, Stuttafords and Smart group holding in 1991.
During the period of business adjustment, the company emerged as one of the largest retail stores spread across Africa, Australia and Poland.
While still at the helm of affairs at Pepkor, Wiese acquired Shoprite a retail outlet chain in South Africa for $122,000
Shoprite And Other Investments
Shortly after the acquisition of Shoprite, Christoffel listed the business on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange as Shoprite Holdings Limited.
He transformed the fortunes of Shoprite from an 8 outlet supermarket to one of the largest retail outlets on the African continent; and in 2011, the company was named the 3rd most valuable brand in South Africa.
By the end of the 2011/2012 financial year, Shoprite had started experiencing significant growth as the company’s shares rose by 50% on the Stock market, and Christoffel made an astonishing $1.5 billion profit.
In addition to Shoprite, Wiese also owns over 1,200 corporate outlets under different names.
Being an Entrepreneur who seeks opportunities from all parts of the world and in different sectors, Weise purchased the struggling OK Bazzaars from South Africa Breweries in 1997 and added 157 supermarkets and 146 furniture stores to the company, thereby increasing the job rate in the area.
Following the sale of Pepkor to Steinhoff, a German furniture conglomerate in 2014, Wiese became the chairman and largest shareholder, he later resigned in 2017 as a result of the Steinhoff’ accounting scandal.
Christoffel Wiese also ventured into the hospitality industry and acquired a farm in South Africa in 1991. He also erected a 48-rooms 5-star hotel on the property which he named Lanzarac Manor & Winery; a business he later sold for an undisclosed fee in 2012
Christoffel Wiese also, directly and indirectly, owns over 20 companies worldwide.
Christofeel Wiese Today
Christoffel F. Hendrik Wiese is a grandmaster in the consumer retail industry, a serial investor, and a huge inspiration to millions of Entrepreneurs across South Africa and the African continent.
He has recorded outstanding achievements as a business leader and is also the recipient of several awards, some of which are:
- Business leader of the year
- The Capetown Sakekamer
- Prestigious Pioneers of the 20th-Century Award
- South Africa Council of Shopping Centres
- 11th most successful businessmen in accounting, banking, finance, consumer goods, fashion and retails.
- In September 2015 Forbes Magazine rated Wiese as one of the most outstanding Billionaires on the African continent with an estimated Net worth then of $5.1 billion
Impact On Society
Christoffel Wiese’ entrepreneurial journey has had a positive impact on thousands of people in South-Africa and across the African continent, Shoprite Alone, which he serves as chairman, currently employs over 147,000 people and operates 2,934 outlets in 15 countries across the African Continent.
To Sum It Up
Having a keen eye for opportunities is important if you want to someday build a successful business, or better still, conglomerate. No matter how small you are, think and act like Christoffel Wiese; know how to spot opportunities; and in the process, you will set yourself up for long-term success.