The picturesque Johannesburg Country Club
played host to Elite Star Trading’s (EST) annual
breakfast at the end of 2017.
In attendance was former Finance Minister
Pravin Gordhan as keynote speaker.
The historic Johannesburg Country Club was packed to capacity on 25 November 2017 with different suppliers to the hardware industry. The event is held annually to thank the suppliers of the EST Building Group for their support. Mohammed Varrachia, EST merchandising director, started proceedings by welcoming guests. Due to a small delay in traffic Mr Gordhan was somewhat late, but Mr Derek Hanekom took the lead and shared some interesting viewpoints regarding the ruling party in his inimitable way! Board Members of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, Derek Hanekom (chairman) Ismail Vadi (also Gauteng MEC of transport) and Neeshan Balton (Executive director) were all in attendance. Varrachia thanked the suppliers in the Hardware Division for their loyalty and support over the past six years – he then handed over to Rob Suttle, Merchandise Director od EST “who highlighted some of the company’s achievements. “Elite Star Trading grew to 503 individual stores which resulted in retail sales in excess of R12BN for 2017” Suttle said. He continued to state that even though the building supply side of the Business had been under pressure, the DIY side was strong. He emphasised the importance of standing together to build volumes on branded products mentioning that it is important to work together with preferred suppliers to build categories. He also encouraged shareholders and members to invest in their stores, technology and staff training. Suttle continued to inform the audience that even though the current economic climate wasn’t ideal, the group still celebrated small victories such as Bright’s who opened a new store in Mitchells Plain. The AK Group from Lesotho also opened in Bloemfontein. Suttle reiterated EST’s objective to ensure the survival of the independent retailer. Next followed a video collage of the events over the past six years – from the trips to Robben Island to golf days and previous breakfast held by EST. Derek Hanekom then took the podium. His message was one of identifying the social challenges we face in this country and the importance of youth employment, our responsibilities as South African citizens and the small, but significant role that each supplier plays in the economy. The importance of transformation, inclusive growth and the breakdown of barriers in the workplace were highlighted.
He challenged each company to employ two extra people to keep their immediate area clean and safe and mentioned the snowball effect of this initiative. Next on the podium was Mr Louis Greeff, Managing Director of EST Group. He took guests through the historical problems in the FMCG side of the business where the playing fields have never been level with large monopolies / oligopolies effectively pushing out the independent retailers. He pointed out the fact that townships, by their very nature, are not conducive for sophisticated retail trade because space is so limited. This forced consumers to travel to other FMCG retailers outside of their immediate areas. This, according to Greeff, is a good reason for independent stores to join large groups such as EST to ensure they have the competitive advantage of bulk buying which effectively aids them to survive in townships. The next speaker was Mr Neeshan Bolton, executive director of the Ahmed Kathrade Foundation who discussed the work of the foundation and the importance of supporting and promoting no-racism in the country. He pointed out the importance of understanding where we come from and specifically being sensitive of saying things that may be offensive when no offence was intended. He informed the audience that the foundation tracked hundreds of incidences of racism at any one time and the organization is building an anti—racism network which works hand-inhand with the Mandela Foundation. He proceeded to state that since March 2017, they have worked hard to defend the constitution by building a coalition of businesses to fight corruption. He emphasized that it was important for civil society to establish its own independent bodies that could hold government to account. He ended with a wish to see everyone at Robben Island in 2018. Then it was the turn of former Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan. He invited questions from the audience who was eager to hear his opinions of what to expect from the upcoming ANC conference. We all know how that turned out – Cyril Ramaphosa was crowned the winner, and the Rand firmed to new levels since 27 March 2017. Guests were then treated to a great breakfast and a generous gift with the hope that 2018 would see everyone return with a positive experience. 30 HOME & BUILDING SUPPLIES |