Raymond Ackerman is a South African businessman and philanthropist. He is the owner of Pick n Pay, a supermarket Chain Store in South Africa.
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He bought four Pick n Pay Stores from Jack Goldin in 1966, and turned it into one of the largest supermarket chain store in South Africa. Also, he was the Chairman until he stepped down in 2010.
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Raymond Ackerman Background
Raymond Ackerman was born on March 10, 1931. He acquired a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Cape Town.
At age 20, Raymond had started to work. He worked as a trainee in the Ackerman’s store, a clothing outfit owned by his father, Gus Ackerman. Later on, the company was acquired by the Greatermans group. The Greaterman group expanded into food retailing stores called Checkers. Ackerman was in charge of managing Checkers and made a success of the new business. But after 15 years of serving in the Greatermans store, Raymond was fired in 1966.
In response, Ackerman through one of his friends bought 4 Pick n Pay stores from Jack Goldin in Cape Town in 1967. His business approach led to the expansion of the brand and improved the entire business practice in South Africa.
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Raymond Ackerman is married to Wendy, also one of the richest women in South Africa. Their union is blessed with four children who are also involved in the family business.
Ackerman handed over to his eldest son, Gareth in 2010. His other children are; Suzzane, Kathryn, and Jonathan.
Raymond and his wife, Wendy now sit as Honorary Life Presidents of Pick n Pay.
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Pick n Pay
Pick ‘n Pay is one of South Africa’s second-largest supermarket chain stores. He started with four stores in 1967, and today the company has over 1600 stores across 7 countries in Southern Africa.
Also, Pick n Pay owns a 49% share of a Zimbabwean supermarket business, TM Supermarkets. It employs more than 38,000 people and operates stores under the Boxer brand in South Africa and Swaziland.
Pick n Pay focuses on groceries, clothing and general merchandise and it is the largest online grocery business in Africa.
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The Raymond Ackerman Academy
The Raymond Ackerman Academy (RAA) was established in 2005. It is an academy that offers a six-month full-time training programme to youths on entrepreneurial development. They provide access to business education for youths within the age of 18 to 30.
The program runs twice a year for the period of six months each in conjunction with the University of Capetown (UCT Graduate School of Business) in Capetown and the University of Johannesburg in Soweto.
Basically, it is for people who are passionate about business and personal development. The classes enable, teach and support participants with the aim to grow the participants and their businesses.
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Awards And Recognition
- One of First Outstanding Young South Africans, FOYSA Award, 1965
- Honorary Doctorate in Law, Rhodes University, 1986
- Paul Harris Fellowship Award from Rotary International, 1987
- One of the World’s Top 40 Marketing Superstars, Advertising Age International, 1993
- Businessman of the Year of the Year, Argus, 1994
- Business Achiever of the Year, Herald Times, 1994
- Outstanding Business Leadership, the Indian Academy of South Africa, 1996
- Melvin Jones Fellow, Lions Clubs International, 1999
- IMM Millenium Achievement Award, The Institute of Marketing Management, 1999
- One of the 100 most influential south Africans who shaped the twentieth century, 1999
- Honorary Doctorate in Commerce, University of Cape Town, 2001
- Pioneer Award, South African Council of Shopping Centers, 2001
- Second Paul Harris Fellow Award, Rotary International, 2001
- Protea Award, Association of Marketers, 2001
- Lifetime Achiever Award, Sunday Times, 2001
- 79 in the Top 100 Great South Africans, 2004
- The Only South African among the world’s 100 greatest business leaders, Financial Times, 2004
- Award for Corporate Citizenship, Woodrow Wilson Center, 2008
- David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership in Africa Award, The Synergos Institute SA, 2010
- Honorary Doctorate, University of South Africa (UNISA), 2011
- Luminary Award, Free Market Foundation (FMF), 2014
- Honorary Doctor of Letter, Rutgers Camden, 2016
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He has published three books on his experience in business as well as business advice for young entrepreneurs. The books are;
- Hearing Grasshoppers Jump. The story of Raymond Ackerman as Told to Denise Pritchard, 2004
- The Four Legs of the Table. Raymond Ackerman’s simple, straight – Forward Formula for Success as told to Denise Pritchard, 2005
- A Sprat to Catch a Mackerel. Key Principles to Build Your Business, 2010
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Raymond Ackerman Quotes
“Your mission must become a passion you believe in.”
“You are in business for the consumer, like a doctor is there for his patients. The more you care about your mission, the more successful you’ll be.”
“Even if you’re able to keep paying your expenses, a business that shows no profit is no good to anyone”
“You are not in business to maximise profit; you are in business to maximise your mission.”
“One thing I’ve learned is to listen to young people. Experience is important, but sometimes young people see more clearly.”
“…It’s not easy retiring when you’ve built a business from scratch.”
“Promotion, marketing, and social responsibility are key. People are fundamental.”
“I’m passionate about what I do. I want to build a company that will last forever.”
“You must give back to the community. The more you give, the more you will succeed.”
“You can’t create jobs through government. You need to excite the entrepreneur to invest capital and to invest in new things.”
“I’m not saying I’m different. I’m not saying I’m clever, I’ve just worked my whole life to rebuild myself after I was fired.”
“Find something you are passionate about, and make it your life’s work.”
“The best way to receive is to give. One can be tough minded, but not hard-hearted. I believe in trying to help everyone but it is also good for my company to fight for people.”
“If you can look yourself in the mirror and if you are close with your family, then that is the most fundamental measure of success.”
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Entrepreneurial Lessons From Raymond Ackerman
Follow Standard Business Principles
Ackerman in his book shared some of the business models he used to turn around his four stores into what it is today. He called it a four-legged table and explained how to run a successful business based on consumer sovereignty.
He called the legs administration, merchandise, promotions, and social responsibility. Then, he explained that each of the legs is required in equal measure in order to keep the table balanced. Also, that money-making is a reward rather than a reason.
Firstly, He believes that to succeed, you need the right goal – the customer. Then, source for the right merchandise. He further disclosed that everything must be geared towards the customer, quality, service and the right price.
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In advising entrepreneurs, Raymond acknowledged that he wasn’t so different or too clever, but he rebuilt his life after he was fired unexplained.
In 1966 after 15 years of working, Raymond got to work and Norman Herber, Chairman of Greatermans, called him in and fired him. When he got home to meet his pregnant wife, Wendy, she gave him motivation and then he swung to action.
Then, with the support of some of his friends, he bought 4 stores; Pick ‘n Pay. Today, Pick n Pay is one of the largest stores in South Africa. This is a result of his dedication to work. For instance, he stated how personally he followed up on customers and influenced them to patronize his supermarket.
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