Mitch Slape
Massmart CEO Mitch Slape
  • The American CEO of Massmart just bought almost R8.2 million in shares in the company.
  • A spokesperson said that the transaction is an expression of Slape's confidence in Massmart.
  • The company suffered a loss of more than R1 billion over the past six months - and lost 80% of its market value over the past decade.
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The American CEO of Massmart, which owns Makro, Game and Builders Warehouse, has just bought almost R8.2 million in shares in the company.

In three transactions over recent days, his family trust bought 300,000 shares at an average price of R27.29.

“The transaction is not part of Mitch’s executive remuneration. Rather it is an expression of his confidence in Massmart,” a spokesperson told Business Insider SA.

The 52-year old Slape joined Walmart-owned Massmart a year ago. Described as a “Walmart old hand”, Slape has been with the US giant for almost a quarter of a century. For much of that time, he was involved in Walmart’s businesses outside of the US – in Mexico, India and Japan.

Slape set in motion big changes at Massmart in recent months.

Game stores are dropping fresh and frozen food, and going big on everyday clothing. The entire Dion Wired chain closed down. The group has also started squeezing its suppliers, in a fashion pioneered by Walmart, and intends to stop paying big escalations in rentals for its stores. 

The embattled company– which has seen its traditional strong grip on SA retail eroded by fierce online competition – was hit by the stringent local lockdown and last week, confirmed that it suffered a headline loss of more than R1 billion over the past six months. Its total sales declined by 9.7% - despite a doubling in online sales.

Walmart – one of the world’s biggest companies, with more than 2 million employees worldwide – bought Massmart in 2010, but has since seen the value of its investment decline by 80%.

In an interview with the Business Times, Slape said he has become accustomed to being asked when Walmart would give up on Massmart.

 “I really look forward to the day when that's not a question any more,” he said.

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