CFO Mark Stirton encourages South Africans to build a better tomorrow

Mark says that South Africans should work together during this time of civil unrest.

As the civil unrest in South Africa subsides, Mr Price Group has announced that it has resumed operations at most of its stores, with only 20 remaining temporarily closed.

CFO Mark Stirton says that Mr Price was able to open most precautionary closed stores on `9 July, but that it will take some time to rebuild and restock the vandalised stores.

The retailer intends to reopen all looted stores, but will be considered based on the specific circumstances of each store location and the status of the individual shopping centres in which these stores are located.

Mr Price has also provided an overview of the damage that was caused by the looting. One hundred and 11 of the group’s 1,592 stores have been entirely looted. In addition, the group has had to temporarily close a further 539 stores across its six divisions.

“The impact has been material,” says Mark, adding that there has been significant disruption brought to supply chains and the retail group’s associate activities, and residual effects on staff psyche.

Extensive efforts were made to ensure that the group’s distribution centres were unaffected and as of Tuesday 20 July, these sites were fully operational including all logistics and distribution activities.

“We initially asked all staff to work from home to ensure their safety and deployed additional armed security to our head office and distribution centres to ensure these major arterial assets were secure,” Mark says. “Our business continuity and disaster recovery plans have been reviewed again to assess the adequacy of our response plan to these scale events.”

He adds that the retailer has had to place permanent armed security personnel at its facilities until the risk level subsides. “We are currently considering alternate supply chains to mitigate risks as a short to medium term tactical strategy. Unfortunately operating from so many varied store locations poses unique challenges, but does diversify risk in these types of situations.”

“Hope and love have to be our weapons when we fight the thoughts and emotions that arise within us over this time,” Mark says. “We should, however, burn with a righteous anger for justice to prevail whilst remaining acutely aware that within these riots was the voice of poverty and desperation which we cannot ignore and is unlikely to go away until a new economic dawn is ushered in.”

He adds that South Africa is a special nation with special people. “Our job now is to truly work together and put our past behind us to build a better tomorrow.”