From cashier to regional manager at Africa’s largest food retailer

Sep 30, 2019

In a world where the gig economy, characterized by short-term contracts and freelance work, is said to account for up to 35% of the workforce in developed countries, it’s unusual to find employees such as Kulsum Sambo who have worked for the same company for several decades, yet the Shoprite Group has a number of employees who have spent their entire careers with the retailer.

Kulsum Sambo started as a cashier at the OK Bazaars store in Cape Town’s Kenilworth Centre in April 1979 when she was 19 years old. Now, 40 years later, she is a Regional Manager for Shoprite’s Western Cape division. (The Shoprite Group purchased OK Bazaars in 1997.)

“I actually wanted to be a nurse and I was waiting for my ID book to apply for the course when I started my first job as a cashier. When my ID book arrived, I compared the salaries and opportunities for nurses and retail workers, and I decided to stick with retail because of the opportunities to grow.”

- Kulsum Sambo, Regional Manager for Shoprite’s Western Cape division

 

Kulsum says ongoing training courses and development programmes at the Shoprite Group, which makes it easier to get ahead if you are willing to work hard and take opportunities.

“No one at Shoprite can complain about not being able to develop their skills because we have job security and ongoing initiatives that give people a chance to learn and advance their careers. They keep an eye out for talent here and if you’re keen, you’ll get ahead.”

- Kulsum Sambo

 

Over the years, Kulsum has completed numerous training and business management courses and progressed through various positions at different Shoprite stores. As a Regional Manager, she now oversees seven stores.

“The thing that I love most about my job is that there’s never a dull moment. Every day, we’re doing something new and different, and we’re always being challenged to come up with new promotions and interesting ways to serve our customers. This job always keeps me going.”

- Kulsum Sambo

 

In her spare time, Kulsum loves to travel and has been to about 60 countries across North and South America, the Middle East, the Far East, Europe and all over Africa.

Kulsum’s role model is the Group’s CEO, Pieter Engelbrecht.

“Whenever we have managerial meetings, Pieter constantly motivates us to keep customers happy. He also uses internal communication channels to remind us of the importance of our customers. I think that it’s very important for us to never forget that the whole point of retail is to keep customers happy.”

- Kulsum Sambo