Our employees are passionate about our business and brands, and are at the heart of who we are. Being our biggest asset, we are committed to investing in our culturally diverse employee base. We believe every employee has the right to realise their full potential.

The group encourages our operating businesses to enable our employees to be the best they can be. We are proud that a large number of our employees pursue their careers with us for many years. Those who choose to move elsewhere value the skills and experience they have gained while working for Pepkor. Our code of ethics is the driving force of employee behaviour. The principles set out in our code of ethics reflect the way we have done things for years. It is inherent in our culture and our values, and all employees are expected to respect and abide by the principles set out in the code. Pepkor’s policies and principles provide further guidance on how employees should engage with one another and our stakeholders. Pepkor’s collective organisational development and HR departments provide guidance and support in terms of HR strategies, policies, group-initiated management training programmes, and EE and B-BBEE roll-out. Through market-related remuneration, skills development, training and wellness programmes, we are able to attract and retain employees who contribute positively to long-term value creation.

Skills development

Pepkor aims to concentrate on assisting employees to develop their skills and employability, while enhancing the critical skills pool that supports the group’s businesses.

We provide employment in 10 African countries and Brazil and across urban and rural communities. Due to the socio-economic challenges facing many of the regions where we do business, our employees are often the only income earners supporting their families.

The importance of skills development include:

  •  addressing scarce skills needs within the retail industry and Pepkor;
  • aligning training and development programmes with the needs of the group;
  •  optimising the use of available funding;
  • creating a potential recruitment pipeline; and
  • ensuring we build a diversified talent pool from which the group can employ.

By joining the Pepkor group, employees become part of a family of leading brands and businesses. Our growth-oriented philosophy offers career-building opportunities, supported by an extensive range of in-house training programmes to enhance our skills pipeline. We balance internal promotions with external recruitment and are mindful of providing opportunities for our internal talent. We turn to external recruitment only when specialist skills are unavailable within the group.

Pepkor’s operating businesses have developed strong employment brands, attracting and developing talent in their unique way. Internal programmes facilitate promotions, such as the 421 sales assistants promoted to store managers in FY23.

We have introduced tailored leadership development initiatives at various levels, aligning with South Africa’s diverse demographics and our employment equity (EE) goals. These targets will remain central to all our future programmes.

Accredited programmes, some of which receive discretionary funding from the relevant SETA such as the Wholesale and Retail (W&R) SETA – are used for learnerships, internships and bursaries/graduate programmes. These programmes focus largely on youth and people with disabilities. In FY23, we supported 4 100 employees in learnerships, and 700 learners with disabilities. Based on publicly available information, Pepkor provides the most learnerships amongst retailers in the country contributing 28% of all W&R SETA sector learnerships for 2023.

Pepkor’s traditional means of development has enabled the effective growth of the company and our people. Owing to the internal development of initiatives, a number of the programmes were historically not recognised or accredited for B-BBEE certification. Acknowledging the requirement for accredited skills, the group is now offering more accredited training and has set internal divisional targets for the number of qualifying learnerships.

Research done by the W&R SETA and Pepkor has identified data science, data analytics and digital roles, as well as business and systems analysts, product designers and planners as scarce skills to develop. Together with the W&R SETA, we are embarking on a programme that enables us to identify black talent as early as their second year of tertiary education towards qualifications that could help us fill the gap of scarce skills but also the gap between higher education and the world of work. The programme further contributes to achieving our own and the national skills development targets. Potential candidates will be exposed to initiatives such as vacation work and experiential learning that are valuable tools for talent development.

Human rights and labour standards

The group supports internationally recognised human rights as stipulated in the 10 principles of the UNGC. Elements of the UNGC are addressed in the group’s code of conduct and across various policies throughout the operational businesses, which have to ensure they are not complicit in human rights abuses. Policies and standards stipulate rules regarding the following, among others:

  • Child labour: the employment of underaged groups is regulated by law
  • Forced labour: the freedom to choose to work
  • Equal opportunities: no discrimination is applied in hiring, compensation, access to training, national origin, religion, age, disability, gender, marital status, sexual orientation or political affiliation
  • Freedom of association: the freedom to belong to organised trade unions and collective bargaining councils
  • Reducing excessive working hours and paying minimum wages
  • Health and safety: creating a healthy and safe working environment and complying with health and safety regulations

HR managers, as well as specialist employee relations practitioners, guide Pepkor’s line management in interpreting and applying workplace legislation. In countries outside South Africa, we collaborate with local specialists to ensure compliance with the applicable legislative requirements.

Other group policies include employment standards and working conditions, remuneration, health, safety and employee well-being, safe working environments, whistle-blowing procedures and EE.

Voluntary association with trade unions is allowed without distinction, and employees are free to join or form associations with trade unions of their choice, to bargain collectively, or to form worker representative groups in the context of the prescribed laws of their country of employment. In South Africa, 22.4% of employees belong to a union and 32.4% of employees are covered by company or industry-level collective agreements.


We continue to benchmark, monitor and review our remuneration policy to ensure we fulfil our purpose and strategy, and deliver value for our employees in the short, medium and long term.

A portion (5%) of long-term incentives for group and operating business executive committees (excos) are based on the FTSE Russell ESG rating, incorporating climate change performance where a score of 2.9 should be achieved. Additionally, the short-term incentive scheme for B-BBEE was retained for FY23. Group and operating business excos will be awarded an incentive of 10% of guaranteed pay upon achieving a Level 7 without being discounted as approved by the Remcom. These targets are constantly being reviewed to ensure they present as a stretch, as we make progress on these initiatives.

Employee engagement

We actively address staff engagement, culture, training, job security, remuneration and transformation.

Acknowledging and celebrating our employees, the work they do, and the difference their contributions make to our customers play a significant role in most employee engagements. Communicating policies, procedures, best practice and company news form part of regular updates.

All our businesses have different forms of information sessions and digital platforms to engage with employees to keep them updated on the progress of each business and the group.

We conduct culture and engagement surveys across our group on a regular basis. Each operating business manages this in the most effective way to support their employment brand.

Whistle-blowing and anti-corruption

Pepkor is trustworthy in our dealings with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders and requires all our employees in the performance of their duties to act in good faith, in a manner promoting Pepkor’s aspiration to be a good corporate citizen.

Stakeholders across the group have access to anonymous and independently managed ethics hotlines to manage instances of protected disclosures as required by the Protected Disclosures Act. These hotlines are available to any stakeholder (internal and external) who requires an anonymous channel to report unlawful or irregular conduct by their employers or other employees without fear of retaliation. These reports are treated as confidential and investigated objectively. Where necessary, there is appropriate recourse.

Various anti-corruption treaties, laws and regulations, as well as ethical business practices require that neither Pepkor, nor its employees, representatives and agents, directly or indirectly, are involved in any way or can be implicated in corrupt activities. Pepkor expects all employees to comply with these treaties, laws and regulations.

Pepkor believes in the principles of free competitive enterprise and applies this principle across all our jurisdictions within the parameters of avoiding any anticompetitive conduct. Within this framework, all employees must understand and comply with anti-competition laws in their day-to-day responsibilities.

Wellness, health and safety

The well-being, health and safety of our employees are of the utmost importance. We create safe working environments, including stores, which also impact on our customers safety.

While we operate predominantly in a retail environment with low physical risks, a small number of our employees work in high-risk areas. These are limited to certain manufacturing and logistics activities, along with The Building Company’s woodwork workshops and building yards. Most employees in our manufacturing and distribution operations have access to on-site clinic facilities or healthcare workers, who provide basic medical services. The clinic at Pepkor Clothing (PepClo) provides a comprehensive range of services to 1 800 manufacturing employees. It was instrumental during the implementation of the COVID-19 screening regulations.

Pepkor’s DCs and distribution logistics hubs comply with health and safety laws and requirements. These locations and activities are audited internally and externally and must pass periodic inspections to retain their certifications.

Requirements in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act are adhered to and closely measured and managed.

Various support programmes are in place for employees. HIV/Aids programmes inform and educate, while additional assistance and wellness programmes provide further support and, in special circumstances, to their families. With the unfortunate scourge of armed robberies, employees are assisted with appropriate training and the necessary counselling.

Sustainability KPIs