Fifty years ago, young Abe Gordon’s boss at Old Mutual dismissed the prospects for the about-to-be-listed retail group Pick n Pay, believing it wouldn’t have much chance competing against the strong incumbent, OK Bazaars. This was a reasonable enough prognosis, given that Pick n Pay was only 18 months old and comprised an unimpressive three stores. (Despite his boss’s view, Gordon became a long-term private investor in the retailer.) Group founder Raymond Ackerman, who is now 87, told the FM that, at the time, he thought listing was a great idea. "My brother had just completed a case study on stock exchange listings and I thought: ‘That’s just what we need’." Ackerman was chatting after the presentation of the group’s upbeat results for the six months ended August 2018. The group now comprises 989 company-owned stores and 686 franchise stores. And, in what was possibly one of the worst trading periods in its history, it managed to outpace all its competitors in achieving like-for-li...

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