Retailing in post-apartheid South Africa: the strategic positioning of Boardmans



de Bruyn P & Freathy P (2011) Retailing in post-apartheid South Africa: the strategic positioning of Boardmans. International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management, 39 (7), pp. 538-554.

Purpose: This paper aims to detail the strategic repositioning of a retail organisation in South Africa. It seeks to describe the social and political transformations that have occurred since the ending of the apartheid regime and discuss the implications of these changes for the retail sector. In particular, the emergence of a new middle class has required many organisations to reconfigure their business processes and operations. The paper focuses upon one company (Boardmans) to illustrate many of these changes Design/methodology/approach: The data used in this paper are primarily secondary in nature.One of the authors was also incumbent within the organisation and had direct experience of many of the issues that are described. Findings: Many retail organisations initially found it difficult to cope with the needs of non-white customers and were forced to make changes to the way in which they operated their businesses. Boardmans, whilst initially coping in the post-apartheid period, over time, lost touch with its customer base. The paper details how the company’s position was re-established after its acquisition by the Edcon Group. This required an holistic approach that sought to engender change throughout the whole of the organisation. Originality/value:  There is only limited research on the South African retail market. This paper provides a detailed insight into the issues surrounding market positioning and makes an original contribution to this literature.

Retailing; Market Position; Segmentation; Republic of South Africa.

International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management: Volume 39, Issue 7

Publication date31/07/2011

People (1)


Professor Paul Freathy
Professor Paul Freathy

Professor, Marketing & Retail