In the early 1960s Raymond Ackerman attended a seminar facilitated by Bernard Trujillo, a marketing genius who Ackerman considered to have had one of the greatest influences of the century. He remembers Trujillo describing the “four legs of the retail table” as a method of implementing consumer sovereignty, a concept Ackerman took seriously enough to apply it to his own company.
In essence, each leg needs to be equally strong in order to balance the table, which represents the business.
The four legs comprise of:
This refers to the various administrative controls, finance and store development – in brief, the mechanics of running the business. This leg also has an important philosophical aspect, which relates to return on profit as well as capital. A policy of not trying to maximise profit is based on Ackerman’s belief that profit maximisation is an outdated business philosophy. Throughout its history Pick n Pay has therefore avoided this pitfall by buying heavily forward on a rising market to keep prices down in an inflationary climate.
This leg represents establishing what consumers really want, and providing it at the right price in the right environment.
Ackerman remembers Bernard Trujillo defining this leg of the table as “desirable merchandise openly displayed and readily accessible”. Pick n Pay takes this definition ones step further with its niche marketing policy of supplying specific merchandise to suit the needs of a particular market. A readiness to engage in conflict in the name of consumer sovereignty is central to Ackerman’s belief that if he can supply any item to the consumer at a lower price, they have the right to it. Price regulation is not part of his vocabulary.
Advertising and Social Responsibility
Pick n Pay has always regarded advertising and social responsibility as two sides of the same coin, and the maxim “doing good is good business” underpins all of Pick n Pay’s social investment initiatives. This not only means doing good for the customer, but also the empowering of employees with the resources they need to grow and improve their lives. Pick n Pay has always been known for its outspoken objection to injustice and the plight of the disadvantaged in our society, and has endorsed that viewpoint by contributing around six percent of after-tax profit on average to community development programmes. It is Raymond Ackerman’s belief that consumerism and social responsibility are inextricably linked: “Profits are the bloodstream of our economic world, but social responsibility is woven completely though a businessman's whole existence.”
There is no doubt that the retail table would be imbalanced without its fourth leg, the Company’s people. Good working conditions, better rate of pay than competitors, fringe benefits that include housing loans and a genuine interest in the welfare of every staff member are pivotal to the way
Pick n Pay does business. Providing opportunities for growth and promoting people from within the Company are our abiding principles. Recruitment from outside the Company only takes place in exceptional circumstances. Employee benefits include the Parental Rights Agreement negotiated in 1987, as well as the Company’s Share Incentive Scheme, through which nearly 80% of employees have acquired shares to date.
The building blocks of Pick n Pay’s social conduct were laid down by Raymond Ackerman more than 42 years ago at the Company’s inception.