#CoronavirusSA: #Standingtogether – 7 April 2020

Our weekly tracking to curate and update our readers on the latest developments in South Africa and Africa around COVID-19 and its impact on the brand and retail value chain.

The first week of lockdown produced extraordinary brand collaborations; brands pivoting businesses to focus on protective gear; executive pay cuts and industries rallying to support consumers. Ubuntu is what will really save South Africa from this pandemic and allow us to rebuild. We launched our COVID-19 news tracker for the retailing eco-system in South Africa and Africa mid-March; and will be continuing to update our readers with relevant news for our brands and retailers each week of this pandemic.

MONDAY, April 6, 2020

Woolworths execs take a paycut

South African-headquartered retailer Woolworths announced on Monday that its executives would take a pay cut up to 30% over the next three months as lockdown and the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic continues in the countries it is operational in. This move was to mitigate the fall in sales in its fashion and home departments of the business as well as the temporary closure of some of its stores. It’s focus will move to prioritising online sales and the retailer this weekend launched a promotional Winter sales campaign online on its Winter clothing – promising delivery after lockdown. Woolworths also announced earlier that it would continue to pay staff while under lockdown.

K-Way pivots to face masks

Cape Union Mart is reopening its Ottery K-Way factory in Cape Town to make face masks and already have a confirmed order for 30 000 masks. Speaking on Cape Talk radio, Phillip Krawitz, chair of the homegrown retailer, said they acted quickly after receiving enquiries, got information from Stellenbosch University on a pattern and process, and launched into full production. Listen here.

Dis-Chem donates R2m to Solidarity Fund

Dis-Chem Pharmacies has donated an initial two million rand to the independent Solidarity Fund set up by the president. At the same time the group is encouraging its Dis-Chem Benefit card members to convert their points to contribute to the Fund, with Dis-Chem pledging to match all Dis-Chem Benefit members’ donations rand for rand. “The initial kickstart contribution of R2 million is our way of participating in the fight to contain and combat the biggest threat to our country and our society,” says Dis-Chem’s executive director Lynette Saltzman.  “Any contribution which supports the fund’s aims of containing the spread of the virus and providing care for ill individuals is valuable, and we are proud that we and our Benefit members will be contributing to such a meaningful initiative.”

FRIDAY, April 3, 2020

DA calls for unbanning of ‘non-essential’ goods

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called for an end to arbitrary limitations on what can be sold in stores that are open during the lockdown. The confusion around what are considered “essential items” in grocery stores, pharmacies and the like, is unhelpful and should be ended, said Dean Macpherson, MP and DA shadow Minister of Trade and Industry in a statement: “The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls for an end to arbitrary limitations on what can be sold in stores that are open during the lockdown. The confusion around what are considered “essential items” in grocery stores, pharmacies and the like, is unhelpful and should be ended. Any item, from hygiene products to electronics, found in a retailer that is allowed to be open should be available for sale to consumers. Once existing stock is sold out, then these items won’t be replenished until after the lockdown.”

Priority access for hospital workers

Pick n Pay is allowing all healthcare workers to skip queues for groceries in all their stores. “All you have to do is show your identification to a member of our staff and gain entry to the store. This is our way of saying thank you for the necessary service you’re providing for our nation at this time!” Pick n Pay said in a Facebook post.

Massmart praises SA supply chain

This week on Marketplace Africa, CNN International’s Eleni Giokos spoke to Massmart chairman Kuseni Dlamini in a remote interview about how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting shopping habits across South Africa. With lockdowns implemented across the world, many customers rushed out to buy and hoard essential items. Dlamini advises that this stocking up is not necessary, “There is no need for people to panic buy. We have got sufficient supplies and a very robust supply chain that is efficient.” This local production is also important for the future. Dlamini is hopeful that locally produced goods will keep the economy afloat and will be key to keeping supply chains strong. “We’ve got a very robust and world class supply chains and logistics network and transportation that we are able to deal with the situation.” One of the problems facing Massmart is making sure that not only are urban centres well stocked, but that rural and remote areas are also getting the products they need. Dlamini makes clear that these businesses are also a priority.

 THURSDAY, April 2, 2020

Clever brands continue marketing

Volvo’s clever play on their usual safety message keeps brand awareness current and shows empathy towards consumers.

Spaza’s allowed to operate

South African government regulations were amended to allow spaza shops, spazarettes and street vendors to reopen or continue trading under lockdown, in order to provide essential goods to township residents.

It was also announced at the same Government press conference on Thursday, that all freight cargo would be allowed into South Africa: what this means is that cargo is now allowed to enter South African ports; at South African border crossings; and that cargo planes would be allowed to land and all cargo sanitised on arrival. Crews would be in lockdown at specific hotels until they were ready to leave.

Droppa refocuses on essential services

Droppa, the digital platform that provides transport delivery solutions is shifting the focus of their business model in response to the new Covid-19 lockdown imposed by the government. The on-demand e-hailing app will now offer its services to sectors rendering essential services such as retail stores, warehouses, fresh produce farms, medical suppliers and will be made available to members of the public who require essential goods delivered to them. Droppa’s original operating model which allows patrons and businesses to request a truck/ bakkie for all furniture removals and logistics, operates in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban. Their competitive pricing is based on the distance and size of the delivery.

Much like Uber, Droppa does not own trucks but instead has driver-partners that have registered their vehicles, thus empowering and providing employment opportunities for many South Africans. The new regulations have forced the developers of Droppa to be more flexible and innovative enough to adjust to the current environment in order to ensure its survival or longevity. “Covid-19 has brought new meaning to the word disruptive. All industries have been forced into a state of survival of the fittest and only organisations which are agile enough to change, have a better chance of living to tell the tale,” says Khathu Mufamadi, Droppa CEO.

Keeping the supply pipeline open

Willowton Group, one of South Africa’s largest food processors, shared a positive video message about continuing to operate during the 21-day lockdown to ensure that everyone has access to essential basic food and goods: “We stand alongside fellow South Africans on the edge of the unknown. Governments have called for the world to pause but we are only getting started. We are energised and inspired by the words of our President and proudly acknowledge that we each have a crucial role to play. While consumers need to stay at home and take care of their safety, our job is to provide the nation with products that genuinely make a difference, to help keep shelves stocked and to unite families around wholesome values and delicious cooking,” said an excerpt from the video from the Willowton Group.

“The recently produced video communicates our values and the importance of working together in a positive way for the good of all South Africans. We have received great feedback with all parties appreciating our commitment to helping improve the quality of life of consumers through our supply of the highest quality brands,” says Zubeir Moosa, CEO of Willowton Group. Moosa said that Willowton Group was strategically placed to offer a continuous and nationwide supply of products to all their valued customers, including leading chain stores, supermarkets, wholesalers, retailers, independents and other major food manufacturers through its food service division. Watch the video here.

TUESDAY, March 31, 2020

Shoprite takes to the road

Grateful residents of Ocean View in Cape Town’s Deep South posted these images of the Shoprite grocery supermarket on wheels that came to their township during lockdown last week, meaning they didn’t have to travel by public transport to their nearest retailer, a few kilometres away.

Franchise industry rallies

The franchise sector, at the end of 2019, was holding its own in what was a trying economic environment. According to FASA’s 2019 Franchise Survey, sponsored by Sanlam, the franchise sector contributed an estimated turnover of R734 billion, equivalent to 13,9% to the country’s GDP through its over 800 franchise systems, close to 48 000 franchised outlets and a workforce of close to half a million. Whilst the picture for 2020 will be vastly different as a result of the impact of COVID-19, one of franchising’s biggest attributes is its ability to adapt and innovate. At the start of the coronavirus threat, franchises from all sectors stepped up their efforts to adapt their businesses to comply with stricter hygiene and safety measures. Those in the Restaurant and Quick Service Sector (QSR) in particular, began expanding and innovating to focus on takeaways and deliveries.

However, with their plans scuppered by the total shutdown for 21 days, all small business and franchise owners and their workforce are now experiencing the devastating economic impact of the crisis. According to Vera Valasis, executive director of the Franchise Association (FASA), it is important that assistance is given to franchisees so that they in turn can keep employees on the payroll and ride the storm in order to grow when the pandemic passes. “Thankfully most franchisors have taken strong leadership steps and have kept their franchised system informed as and when developments and information is published by the government about the lock-down regulations, financial aid and other funds that can be accessed for financial assistance.  More importantly, many of them have suspended royalty payments until the situation improves – amongst them those in the fast food sector, the automotive, DIY and business to business sectors. The list grows daily and we are delighted that so many franchisors are so responsive and stepping up so quickly to help their franchisees,” said Valasis. FASA is keeping the industry updated as to financial aid packages and funds at

MONDAY, March 30, 2020


This is what it is all about, really, in the end: standing together, fighting this fight against this invisible threat together, collaborating, cooperating, and serving our clients and our customers to help everyone get through this.




#CoronavirusSA tracker: Week March 23-27, 2020.

#CoronavirusSA tracker: Week March 16-20, 2020.


*Curated and edited by Retailing Africa Publisher & Editor, Louise Burgers. Keep the industry updated and send your announcements and news to:



Louise Burgers (previously Marsland) is the Publisher and Editor and Co-Founder of She has spent over 20 years writing about the FMCG retailing, marketing, media and advertising industry in South Africa and on the African continent. She has specialised in local and Africa consumer trends and is a passionate Afro-optimist who believes it is Africa’s time to rise again and that the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will be a global gamechanger in the next decade.

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