Massmart CEO hits out at Shoprite

Grant Pattison is puzzled by Whitey Basson’s effort to stop the Massmart store expansion at CapeGate.

Massmart CEO Grant Pattison. Picture: corporate.walmart.com

JOHANNESBURG - Massmart CEO Grant Pattison on Wednesday hit back at Shoprite CEO Whitey Basson after he moved to block the expansion of a Game store in the CapeGate Shopping Precinct.

Basson filed an interdict in the Western Cape High Court, saying Shoprite has an exclusivity clause in its contract with the centre.

He says a Game store, which Massmart aims to expand, directly competes with it.

That in turn violates the stipulations of that clause.

Massmart, owned by United States retail giant Walmart, has been at the receiving end of many lashings by Basson, who recently joked that he thought the company had gone back to America as he had seen little change at its South African unit.

But Pattison laughed this off, saying his company has clearly caught the attention of competitors once more.

"I think he's found us again," he jokes.

Pattison says he doesn't really understand why Basson is making such a fuss as other competitors are also trading at CapeGate.

"It doesn't make sense, they pay less rental. I'm not sure why they've got extra rights for paying lower rental than everyone else."

Pattison says the clause also doesn't appear to apply to all potential competitors at the centre.

"There already are the major retailers. Pick n Pay is already here, Woolworths is already here. I assume the Shoprite exclusivity clause says, 'don't worry, Pick n Pay and Woolworths are alright, but everyone else is not alright.'"

Pattison also says Basson shouldn't be picking the fight with Massmart when the claim should be made against the centre's landlords.

He added the issue be dealt with by the Competition Commission and not the Western Cape High Court.