Clicks CEO departs for Australia as ‘brain drain’ continues unabated

After three years at the helm, Clicks CEO Vikesh Ramsunder will resign as the person in charge as he takes up an opportunity abroad. This has been a recurring theme with South African corporate business leaders for the better part of the last decade, contributing to the ‘brain drain‘ as some of our best local talent look for greener pastures overseas. His replacement, long-standing group executive Bertina Engelbrecht, will take the reins from 1 January 2022. She takes over a retailer that has continued to go from strength to strength, taking significant market share away from competitors and growing earnings consistently year-on-year. – Justin Rowe-Roberts

Clicks SENS statement: 

Resignation and appointment of chief executive officer

Shareholders are advised that chief executive officer (“CEO”) and executive director Vikesh Ramsunder has resigned from the group with effect from 31 December 2021 to take up a career opportunity as the CEO of a listed company in Australia. He will continue as a strategic advisor to the group until 31 August 2022.

Bertina Engelbrecht (58), currently the group corporate affairs director, has been appointed as CEO from 1 January 2022. She joined the group in 2006 as group human resources director and was appointed as an executive director in 2008. In December 2020 Bertina’s portfolio was expanded to include strategic stakeholder engagement.

Clicks Group chairman, David Nurek, said: “Vikesh has demonstrated outstanding leadership as CEO over the past three years and has led the group through several challenges in recent times, most notably through the Covid-19 pandemic. Vikesh has built a strong executive leadership team and we are confident in their ability to maintain the current momentum in the business. We are sorry to say goodbye to Vikesh and wish him well as he makes this international career move.”

“We are pleased to appoint Bertina as the first black female to lead a listed retail group in South Africa. She has been part of the executive leadership team for the past 15 years and been integrally involved in the development of the group’s strategy and growth of the business over this time. Appointing an internal successor of Bertina’s calibre highlights the depth of talent and commitment to sustainable transformation and human capital development within the company.”

Under Vikesh’s leadership Clicks and UPD have entrenched their market-leading positions and the group has expanded its retail presence to 841 stores and 621 pharmacies. The group is recognised as the most transformed and empowered retailer in the country. In this three-year period the group’s share price has increased by 60% and the market capitalisation on the JSE has risen from R48bn to R75bn, despite markets being severely impacted by Covid-19.

Outgoing CEO Vikesh Ramsunder said: “I am leaving Clicks Group and South Africa with a heavy heart. It has been an honour to lead the Clicks Group and to have been part of such a dynamic and transformed business which has presented me with career defining opportunities.”

Incoming CEO Bertina Engelbrecht said: “Being appointed CEO of a company of the stature of Clicks Group is a privilege and I thank the board for their confidence and support in entrusting me to lead the company. Clicks Group is on a sustained growth trajectory thanks largely to the quality of the highly experienced executive team and I look forward to leading this strong team from January next year.”

Background information on Bertina Engelbrecht A career human resources professional, Bertina joined Clicks Group in 2006 and was appointed as an executive director in 2008. In 2020 her responsibilities were expanded to include strategic stakeholder engagement and she assumed the position of group corporate affairs director. Prior to joining the Clicks Group Bertina was general manager for Shell SA Energy and regional human resources manager for Shell Oil Products Africa. Earlier in her career Bertina was director of organisational effectiveness at Sea Harvest, managed her own consultancy practice and spent eight years with Transnet. Bertina holds a master of laws degree and is an admitted attorney.

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