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Interview | Bidvest eyes long-term international growth as CEO readies to step down

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Bidvest CEO Lindsay Ralphs is set to retire at the end of this month.
Bidvest CEO Lindsay Ralphs is set to retire at the end of this month.
Bidvest

For the past 32 years, industrial giant Bidvest's growth strategy has been an aggressive one, once putting the company in more than 39 countries from South Africa to mainland China. Now its CEO, Lindsay Ralph, is set to retire, but he says the company he joined 28 years ago will stay true to its bold growth origins.

From the moment Bidvest was started by Brian Joffe 1988, it has been aggressive about its acquisition strategy. It made its first purchase in the same year, with bakery supplier Chipkins, a business the company described as its foundation asset. The Chipkins acquisition was followed by Sea World, which made up its food services division Bidcorp, that the company unbundled in 2016. After the split, Bidvest's footprint shrank and now consists of South Africa, the UK and Ireland, which it intends to expand again.

The late 1980s and early 1990s set the tone for what it would grow to become, a company with a hunger for growth embedded an its DNA. Today, Bidvest has grown to six divisions with a portfolio made up of services, branded products, freight, commercial, financial services and automotive.

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