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Nov 25, 2011

CE optimistic about SA’s future

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Brian Joffe
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Although JSE-listed Bidvest Group is a decentralised business, this has ensured sustained growth in times of economic uncertainty, CE Brian Joffe tells Engineering News. The group’s core investment is in the trading, distribution and services sectors.

In sharing some of the secrets that have sustained the company’s success over its 22 years in existence and some of its future plans, Joffe says each of its 3 000-odd business units are given measurable targets to meet.

Each business has its own management and finanical teams to make it easier to meet these targets.

Joffe concedes that one of the challenges of being a diverse group is management, which is why Bidvest’s organisational process is decentralised. This is also why the group does not centrally manage any of its businesses.

“This philosophy gives us the flexi- bility of a small business, which benefits us as a big company financially,” he added.

This, in part, contributed to the group’s positive financial performance this year, despite the continued economic uncertainties facing many of the countries in which Bidvest Group operates.

Joffe asserts that the success of the company would not have been possible without the many contributors, ranging from its staff to its business partners.

“The depth of skills in Bidvest Group is significant and I am optimistic about the future of the company,” he says.

Meanwhile, in August, the group turned down unsolicited bids for the international food service division, saying it planned to expand the business through acquisitions in Egypt, Chile and the Baltics.
Bidvest has, in the past, said it recognised that this division could be separated from the rest of the group, as its true value was not fully reflected in the group’s share price.
SA Focus
Turning his focus to the South African market, Joffe expresses optimism about the local market’s growth potential, but highlights that education remains a major constraint to growth.

“We need to be able to deliver proper education for all, but especially to the previously disadvantaged,” he says.

Joffe asserts that South Africa must create a skilled labour force to enable it to create a sustainable economy.

Nevertheless, despite the challenges of operating in the local market, the tough trading conditions and low business confidence levels, Joffe says Bidvest remains committed to its businesses in South Africa.

“I have no doubts about the positive future outlook for South Africa. Bidvest has been here through the difficult times and I am sure we will remain here,” he states.

Further, he welcomes Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel’s assurances that government does not intend to nationalise South Africa’s mines or any other sectors.

Succession

Joffe says Bidvest has, over the past two years, embarked on succession planning for the future.

“We have been in the process of appoint- ing younger CEOs and the structuring and planning are all in place,” he tells Engineering News.

Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn
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