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By Suren Naidoo

Moneyweb: Deputy Editor & Host of the Property Pod


Ivan Saltzman to leave as Dis-Chem CEO in June

But he will remain on the group’s board as an executive director and continue to play a role in its growth.


Dis-Chem confirmed on Monday that its founder and long-time CEO Ivan Saltzman will step down at the end of June 2023 and the group’s CFO Rui Morais will take over the top job from July.

While Morais was effectively announced as Dis-Chem’s CEO-designate in August 2021 as part of succession planning, the group did not mention at the time when exactly Saltzman would be exiting the role.

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Saltzman and his wife Lynette have played a key role in the group’s growth and expansion over the last 40-plus years and listed it on the JSE in 2016. It is now the second largest pharmacy retail group in South Africa, after Clicks.

Dis-Chem was also recently featured on the Financial Times/Statista 2023 annual ranking of Africa’s 100 fastest growing companies.

“Shareholders are advised that Ivan Saltzman, who co-founded Dis-Chem with his wife Lynette in 1978, has announced that he will step down CEO at the end of June 2023. Saltzman will remain an executive director on the Board and continue to serve as an active member of the executive management team, with his role including an emphasis on the Group’s commitment to accelerate retail space growth, together with a concentrated focus on the trade of the retail store network,” the group noted in a Sens update on Monday.

The group added that 38-year-old Morais, who was earlier announced as the successor to Saltzman, will assume the role of CEO effective from the 1st of July 2023.

“Morais joined the Group in 2010 and has been in the role of CFO and a member of the executive leadership team since August 2012. He has been integrally involved in the development of the Group’s strategy over the past 11 years,” Dis-Chem noted.

Meanwhile, the group said its current executive head of finance, Julia Pope (42), will succeed Morais as CFO.

“The group’s commitment to inclusion, diversity, and transformation, ensured that Pope’s period of six years with the Group prepared her for this leadership and management role,” Dis-Chem said.

“Pope, who has 19 years of retail experience, and has been working side-by-side with, and under the supervision of Morais since her appointment in 2017, will assume her new role as CFO and an executive director on the Board effective from the 1st of July 2023,” the group added.

“Dis-Chem has built a strong executive leadership team that is capable of building on the success achieved by Saltzman, and further realising his ambitions for the Group,” it said.

Saltzman divestment

It added that in order “to deliver on the group’s strategic priorities” over the long-term, Saltzman has committed to divest 32.25 million Dis-Chem ordinary shares owned by the Saltzman family, representing 3.75% of Dis-Chem’s issued share capital, to Morais and a group of key senior executives, ensuring their ongoing commitment.

“Over the course of the past 45 years, Lynette and I have grown the business from a single store to what is today – the largest retail pharmacy chain by market share in South Africa, with a network of over 300 retail stores and over 20 000 staff,” Saltzman said on Monday.

“I am confident in, and supportive of the future leadership of the Group who share the same commitment to the brand fundamentals that Lynette and I do,” added Saltzman.

“Together with Lynette, I look forward to doing what I enjoy – spending time in the stores, and ensuring that our staff continue to provide the value and service that has made the brand what it is today. I will continue to identify opportunities to expand our store footprint,” he said.

“Saltzman is one of the extraordinary retailers of his generation, who has transformed retail pharmacy,” said Dis-Chem chair Larry Nestadt.

“Under his leadership, Dis-Chem evolved from a family business to a leading listed, and proudly South African, corporate business. Dis-Chem’s leadership succession has been carefully planned and very well managed by Saltzman, and we are confident in the leadership team’s ability, under Morais’ stewardship, to deliver on the strategic ambitions of the Group,” Nestadt added.

Comment on his appointment Morais said: “I am excited and privileged to be given the opportunity to lead the Dis-Chem Group. I thank the Saltzman family, the founding shareholders, and the board, for entrusting me with this responsibility.”

He said that the group is “well positioned to deliver on its mandate of increasing access to quality and affordable private healthcare to more South Africans, and in so doing, reinforcing the Dis-Chem brand as South Africa’s healthcare authority and delivering differentiated returns to our shareholders who share this long-term vision”.

Dis-Chem’s shares traded just over 2.5% firmed on Monday, following the news, at around R24.30 a share.

Dis-Chem share price

This article originally appeared on Moneyweb and was republished with permission. Read the original article here.

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