Exclusive Books CEO Grattan Kirk is more general retail than bookish, and looks more rugby player than reader. In the privately held company's stylish warehouse-feel head office in Kramerville, Sandton, he smiles when telling of friends who questioned how he got the job seven months ago, given that he's not a big reader. But hardline retail expertise is what Exclusive Books needs urgently, and Kirk, with more than 20 years' experience in several high-level retail positions, is turning around the underperforming company. He's been surprised by the collegial nature of the industry, which, he says, is "outstanding". "Where I come from, you fought your competitors hard to get to the customers' wallet, which makes the heart of this industry really fabulous." Coming from the consumer electronics side (as CEO of Incredible Connection), he worked at furniture retailer JD Group as CEO, leaving when Steinhoff took it over. After that, he spent five years at Tiger Brands. It wasn't all that ge...

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