Many Durban and Pietermaritzburg residents will have to take a bit of a road trip if they plan to do any in-store shopping at Makro stores soon.
Brian Leroni, senior vice president of corporate affairs at Massmart, has told MyBroadband it will take months to repair the damage inflicted on two of the company’s outlets in KwaZulu-Natal.
Massmart, which also owns Game, Builders, and CBW, had 41 of its facilities impacted by the looting and violence which broke out in the days following the arrest of former president Jacob Zuma.
39 of its affected facilities were located in KwaZulu-Natal, the area which suffered the worst unrest.
This included two Makro stores — one in Springfield, Durban and another in Camps Drift, Pietermaritzburg.
Ten Game stores located in several malls and shopping centres were also plundered and vandalised.
— GLOBAL NEWS NEXUS (@globalnwsnexus) July 13, 2021
WATCH: Despite army deployments, there are no SANDF soldiers insight on Umgeni Road in Durban. Makro and Value Centre have been looted since yesterday. @News24 @TeamNews24 #ZumaUnrest pic.twitter.com/8KGh19yHGi
— Kaveel Singh (@kaveels) July 13, 2021
Leroni said Massmart anticipated most Game stores would likely reopen within the next six to twelve weeks. These stores were covered by business interruption insurance, he added.
The diagnosis for the Makro stores was much worse.
“The two Makro stores were severely damaged by fire and will take significantly longer to rebuild and reopen,” Leroni said.
Evidence of severe damage to these stores could be seen as the looting unfolded during that disastrous week.
Images and videos on social media showed how looters even stripped solar panels from the parking lot roofs of the Springfield Makro.
Looters even removing the solar panels outside of this Makro in KZN pic.twitter.com/qLTSajH6nH
— Kobayashi’s Basilisk (@FaeceSocietatis) July 13, 2021
(South Africa) “This is Makro Springfield Park Durban #SouthAfrica after it has been looted. There are hundreds of stores that are worse – they have been burned to the ground. Food is running out.” — via https://t.co/XfMfF4tDFf pic.twitter.com/h7XAysr4JZ
— crabcrawler (@crabcrawler1) July 14, 2021
Fortunately, Makro and Game’s online deliveries have returned to previous levels, for the most part.
Leroni said this was because Massmart could re-direct orders to alternative facilities as previously unsafe routes were reopened.
This was even though Massmart’s massive Riverhorse distribution also took a beating.
“We are confident we have sufficient capacity in our current distribution centre network to fill any gaps in supply,” Leroni said.
“Our central distribution centre network has built-in redundancy for scenarios that disrupt supply — and we have activated the related back-up plans.”
Leroni added that Massmart was fortunately in the final stages of building a new state-of-the-art distribution centre in KwaZulu-Natal.
The opening of this centre has been brought forward, with the eThekwini Municipality helping to expedite its electricity connection to enable an earlier go-live date.
The cars and taxis line up for some redistribution. Again note the cars which indicate the SA middle to upper-middle-class partaking in destruction and looting. Game Distribution Centre Durban pic.twitter.com/SyQhxdlpmF
— mike schussler (@mikeschussler) July 13, 2021
Despite the big losses in stock and severe damage taken, Leroni said Massmart’s commitment to the KwaZulu-Natal market and its investment in the sustainable growth of its business remains unchanged.
“Our immediate priority throughout this recovery period has been; firstly to ensure the welfare of our staff and secondly, to reinstate and re-open our physical assets,” Leroni stated.
“We are also extremely fortunate to have an exceptionally good majority shareholder in Walmart that is committed to supporting our staff, customers and communities during this time.”
Despite being one of the major victims of the looting, Massmart has also stepped in to help local communities repair the damage and rebuild.
Together with Walmart and the Walmart Foundation, the company has donated R13 million toward recovery efforts focussed on food security.
“We remain resolute and determined in serving our customers and contributing to a better South Africa, and we will come back stronger,” Leroni stated.
Makro’s Cornubia store in Blackburn, north of Umhlanga, remains open.