Grocery retailer Pick n Pay's CEO Pieter Boone says the alcohol sales ban urgently needs to be lifted, especially in the aftermath of last week's widespread rioting and looting as many independent retailers won't survive if it goes on for much longer,
"We have hopefully passed the peak of the Covid-19 third wave. In normal times, many independent shopkeepers depend on responsible liquor sales to sustain their businesses, and [they] will not survive another prolonged ban," Boone said.
"The social unrest, looting, and damage [have] dealt them a further body blow – [and have released] a large amount of looted liquor into the illicit market. Lifting the ban will be widely welcomed across the country as a positive and responsible step forward in our recovery from the events of last week."
Boone said Pick n Pay was working very hard in anticipation of the lifting of the ban.
"By the end of next week, we will have repaired and be ready to reopen 28 of our 76 severely damaged liquor stores in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng."
In total, 136 of Pick n Pay's food, grocery, clothing and building stores across KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng were looted and/or burnt down, along with 76 liquor stores. Two Pick n Pay distribution centres in KwaZulu-Natal were also severely damaged.
"The scale and the nature of the destruction [are] heartbreaking", said Boone, "But I have been inspired by the progress made by our Pick n Pay and Boxer teams in the noble task of cleaning up, rebuilding, and restocking our stores – [and] getting them ready to welcome customers again."
By the end of next week, Boone assured that the total number of reopened stores would rise to 58 out of 136. Pick n Pay has also commenced repairing and restocking the two distribution centres in Pinetown, KwaZulu-Natal, which were both looted and severely damaged.
"We will soon have a fully restored supply chain network."