Shoprite bids farewell to Christo Wiese, Newsline

DURBAN – Shoprite yesterday went for the jugular, appointing respected banking guru Wendy Lucas-Bull as its chairperson-designate to take over from long-serving chairperson Christo Wiese with immediate effect

The retailer said it was awaiting its annual general meeting (AGM) to ratify the board’s decision to appoint.

The AGM is expected to take place next month.

The group said Wiese would remain on the board as a non-executive director, but retire as chairperson at the conclusion of the AGM.

Lucas-Bull has been the chairperson of Absa Group, Absa Bank and Absa Financial Services since 2013.

Shoprite said her extensive banking and widespread sector experience as well as expertise as a chairperson and non-executive director on company boards across multiple industries in both the private and public sector makes her a right candidate for the job.

However, Lulama Qongqo, an investment analyst at Mergence Investment Managers, said the appointment of Lucas-Bull was a tough one to call, given her lack of experience in the retail sector.

“Lucas-Bull comes with a lot of financial industry and other industrial sector experience, but no experience in the retail sector or directly related industries such as food and fast-moving consumer goods.

“We will have to wait and see in due time whether the lack of sector overlap with Shoprite matters at all.

“However, that being said, she is above retirement age and I am concerned about her tenure on the Shoprite board. Either way, this is a positive outcome,” Qongqo said.

Lucas-Bull turned 65 this year. She was instrumental in the merger of Absa and Barclays and played a key role in its subsequent separation in 2017.

The process included the spinning off of Barclays 69percent holding in Absa and the transitioning back into Absa in more than 10 countries.

Her professional experience includes international partner of Andersen Consulting, now Accenture, executive director of RMB Holdings and chief executive of FirstRand’s retail businesses, including FNB, WesBank, Outsurance, Firstlink as well as founder and director of Peotona Group Holdings & Peotona Development.

Michael Treherne, a portfolio manager at Vestact, said Lucas-Bull was more than capable for the job.

“From a diversity perspective, it is great to see the company appointing a woman to lead the board. Research shows that diversity in leadership generally leads to better long-term results for businesses,” Treherne said.

Wiese said Lucas-Bull would bring experience and leadership skills that would benefit Shoprite.

“On behalf of the board, we welcome Wendy and wish her success in her role as an independent non-executive board member and chairperson-designate.

“There is no doubt her expertise, experience and leadership will be of considerable benefit to both the board and the Shoprite Group,” Wiese said.

Shoprite shares declined 0.59percent on the JSE yesterday to close at R135.84.

BUSINESS REPORT