Every time the economic outlook darkens and a squeeze comes onto the disposable income of the populace, the local consumer demonstrates a calibre of nose for sniffing out a bargain that would be worn proudly by the better class of bloodhound. The more the pips are squeezed, the less room there is for messing around, and this relentless consumer focus on value plays into Pep’s hands in its position as SA’s leading discount retailer.

The company baldly states that it provides the lowest price to customers on basic and essential products, with its product range maintaining best price leadership of 97% during the year. This is a pretty simple strategy to articulate but one that requires considerable operational excellence to deliver year after year, and it has generated a great deal of loyalty among its clientele. Sadly, this loyalty was not enough to protect the company from the impact of the unrest in July, when 549 of its stores and one distribution centre were looted at an est...

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