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Latest Deals | 29th November 2021




Checkers supermarkets and hypermarkets are the premium offering within the Shoprite Group.

Checkers is a supermarket chain that was founded by Norman Herber in 1955. The first stores were opened in Johannesburg when a few Greatermans stores converted some of the retail space into grocery departments branded as Checkers in an effort to attract more customers. At the time, Greatermans, which was owned by the Herber family, had a number of department stores. A young manager – Raymond Ackerman – was put in charge of Checkers. Ackerman implemented a number of innovative ideas that he had learned from travelling to the US for a six-month period during which he took jobs at supermarket retailers and studied their practices. As a result, Checkers became a major success for Greatermans and the brand became a standalone store. By 1966, the number of Checkers chain stores had grown from 2 to 85. That same year, Ackerman was fired from Checkers and he returned to Cape Town to start Pick ‘n Pay. In the meantime, Checkers continued to enjoy success, briefly engaging in an unsuccessful price war with the fledgeling Pick ‘n Pay in the Western Cape. But a decade later, Greatermans had sold off Checkers and the supermarkets had begun to decline. In 1991, Checkers’ 169 stores were acquired by Shoprite, instantly giving Shoprite a national footprint that allowed it to grow outside of the Western Cape.

While turning around the ailing business was a major challenge for the Shoprite Group, it paid off and Checkers has thrived. There are currently over 200 supermarkets and 37 hyper stores and the business employs an estimated 16,000 workers. Within the Shoprite Group, the Checkers brand’s target market is upper-income customers. Checkers’ range has expanded beyond food to include household goods, branded appliances, and even indoor and outdoor furniture in their hypermarket formats. Checkers’ positioning has focused on quality and the store caters to its affluent shoppers by importing premium products in key categories such as coffee, cheese and wine. Thanks to legislation that allowed corporate ownership of pharmacies, Checkers operates fully fledged in-store pharmacies branded as MediRite. Other value-added services operated by the retailer include a kiosk where customers can purchase flight tickets and make money transfers, as well as a Computicket where bookings for various events can be made. Outside South Africa, Checkers has stores in Botswana and Namibia.

Checkers’ early success was largely due to Raymond Ackerman.