The South African retail sector is witnessing significant changes, especially with the rise of grocery-buying groups. Elite Star Trading Africa (EST Africa) has been a key player in this evolution, addressing the challenges and opportunities in the market.

EST Africa’s Stance Against Retail Giants

EST Africa has been vocal about the detrimental effects of large grocery retail giants entering township areas. Their concern centres around the negative impact these giants could have on local traders, potentially undermining the sustainability of smaller businesses [1].

In this article published in The Sunday Times in June 2017, Louis Greef, the Managing Director of EST states: “What happens to the thousands of spaza stores‚ independent retailers and pavement stores? People are now getting better investment by renting out their shops to foreign traders‚…we live in a country where 14 million people go to bed hungry‚ we live in a country where 37% of the population is unemployed‚ we live in a country where many people are crowded together in townships. “How can they (the retail giants) even vaguely try to say it will have very little impact on those small and independent traders? It is‚ to say the least‚ absolute absurd‚” Greeff charged.

He demonstrated how townships had their own economies and their own GDP‚ with a certain amount of available money that could be spent in that geographic area.

Greeff said he could not understand how the grocery retail giants could argue that a trader with no limitations to credit‚ products and finances could move into an area and take R50-million worth of turnover per month out a very small area and have no devastating effects on its economy.

Empowering Independent Retailers

EST Africa focuses on creating a platform for mutual prosperity between suppliers and independent retailers. This approach is designed to ensure that the relationship is not exploitative but rather beneficial for all parties involved [2]. By doing so, EST Africa helps small retailers thrive in a market dominated by larger chains.

Navigating Market Challenges

The managing director of EST Africa, Louis Greef, acknowledges the challenges in the hardware retail sector. Despite these challenges, EST Africa remains committed to navigating the market effectively, highlighting their resilience and adaptability in a fluctuating market [3].

In this article published in DIY Trade News in June 2023, Louis Greef states “…But in essence our success is determined by how we can contribute or ensure the survival of this very important route to market. Many if not most of our core consumers live in very isolated areas. They are very low income, are not mobile, and need the small independent stores in their area to survive. At a trader/store level, most are non-white and previously disadvantaged individuals who are also trying to survive both in this economic cycle, but also against very big corporate retailers with big pockets and financial resources. So, if we can successfully look after their interests, we should continue to do well. Most of the retailers are also shareholders in the company. It’s for everyone’s benefit that EST Hardware survives and prospers. Suppliers are, however, the ‘indirect’ backbone of our survival. We openly share this with them, and need their buy-in and together we can ensure the survival of these SMEs who should be the backbone of our economy… not only in hardware, but in ALL sectors of our economy.”

Impact on Wholesale and Supply Chain

EST Africa’s involvement in the retail sector also has implications for the wholesale cash and carry businesses. While some believe the wholesale channel is under threat, the presence of buying groups like EST Africa suggests a more complex dynamic [5]. Additionally, the supply chain of grocery products, where buying groups sell to various retailers, is an area where EST Africa plays a crucial role [6].


In summary, Elite Star Trading Africa stands as a significant entity in the South African retail landscape, not only in supporting smaller retailers but also in shaping market dynamics. Their efforts ensure that the retail market remains diverse and competitive, providing options for consumers and sustainability for small businesses.

🌐 Sources

  1. timeslive.co.za – Retail giants’ march into townships detrimental for local traders, argues EST Africa
  2. estafrica.co.za – EST – FMCG
  3. b2bcentral.co.za – Challenging times ahead for hardware retailers
  4. journals.co.za – Challenging Times Ahead | DIY Trade News
  5. openbooks.uct.ac.za – The South African Retail Landscape
  6. researchgate.net – Supply chain of grocery products