Sunday, April 23, 2023


 Dear Readers,

Willem Hunlun

          At the Sun Valley Checkers Hyper  in Cape Town I got somewhat lost because I entered it down the one side opposite one of the two main entrances and moved into various isles via the wide passageway that rums across the middle of what is a large store in keeping with its Hyper image. Here you find you can go right or left into the various isles but there are no signs to tell you what’s in them. These are only at the beginning where the main entrances are and at the far end of the store. And your chances of being able to find somebody to help you are remote in my experience.

          Believing that this problem could be easily solved I emailed Pieter. Engelbrecht, the CEO of Shoprite Holdings, the owners of Checkers. From a previous experience of emailing him I found him to be from the pass the buck school of CEO’s, but I still felt I should start at the top.

The signs at the beginning and end of each isle
that run the length of the store in English
to begin with & Afrikaans at the end

          However he ran true to form and passed my ‘complaint’ down to Dean Olwage, Head of Customer Relations & Experience. He replied thanking me for my email to their CEO Pieter Engelbrecht and went on to say that they had checked their Sun Valley Hyper and it “does have isle signage.” And he sent me photographs to prove it.

          I replied: “That’s very strange Dean. Why would one of your managers at the Noordhoek branch (Sun Valley) tell me that they had raised the problem of not having isles properly marked (indicating that other people apart from me had complained) with top management and this had been with them for some two years now. This is after I had been in the store and gone down the one side into various isles, which are rather long, and from where I was looking down the isles I could see nothing in the middle of them high up or anywhere to indicate what was in the particular isle I was in at the time.” 

This is the side entrance where I went in. There are
no isle signs here.
            I followed this with another email saying: “Dean I have just had another look at the pictures you sent me and it is clear that those don’t help if you cross the store in the middle because all these signs are at the beginning of the isles and only at the one end. (I mistakenly said there were none at the ends which there are but they still don’t help if you are in the middle.) So that explains why people like me have evidently been complaining.”
Here are Pick n Pay's very obvious overhead signs

I then really put my foot in it by suggesting they should follow the example set by their big rival supermarket group Pick n Pay. “You badly need signs suspended above the isles, like Pick n Pay has in several places so that wherever you happen to be in the store you can reasonably easily find what you are looking for. The way the nearby Pick n Pay (the one I was referring to is much smaller than a Hyper being an ordinary supermarket) does it is even more essential in a Checkers which is so much bigger.”

This is the passageway in the middle where there 
are no signs to tell you what is in the isles

Dean really put the kibosh on my efforts to improve the service Checkers provides with this email: “We have discussed this with the COO Checkers, Willem Hunlun. In Hyper stores like Sun Valley, there are signs at either ends of the isles, but not in the middle where isles are split by a passage. This is based on the standard store design for hyper stores and at this time we won’t amend the store design.”

So that was that.


Jon, a Consumer Watchdog who gets things done, but that’s life even I can’t always win.


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