You are visitor number
John Plaut on “We worked like Tro… John Plaut on “He set high expectation…
When the Distribution Centre staff asked their Manager for a sponsorship to play in the Industrial Soccer League, the Distribution Centre manager said that he will speak to his boss. He told us that he will get back with an answer. After his discussion Mr. Lambrecht came back to us said that the Company will pay the league fees and pay for the taxi fees to pick up the players and take them to the soccer field.
I will never forget this incident as it showed how much Clicks really cared for their staff.
There was another incident where an assistant manager RJ ( I wont give his full name) went to the bank in Johannesburg to deposit the money.
He unfortunately always took the same route and one day he got robbed of the takings from the Pritchard Street Branch – which was the busiest in Johannesburg.
Instead of going back to the store and phoning the cops he gave chase to the robbers and when they saw him following they started shooting at him and there were thousands of people in the street
As it was lunchtime but this did not deter him it only spurred him on to run harder and he was catching up. They continued to fire at him and he ducked and dived – and so did numerous onlookers.
Finally the robbers saw that he wasn’t going to give up and threw the money bag on the ground and ran away.
RJ came back to the store with a wide grin on his face and said” They wont get a dime from me!”
When Jack Goldin heard the news which also hit the papers etc, he was furious as one should never give chase or put anyone at risk when robbed.
Needless to say RJ ended up working in the warehouse from then on.
The one thing that I always remember is as a newly appointed manager I invited Jack to my wedding and he accepted and came.
I was immensely impressed that he took the time to come – he didn’t know at the time that the person he sat next to at my wedding offered me a buying job some 4 years later and I went on to become the Merchandise Director of Dion Discount Stores before moving on to my own business and finally immigrating in 1994 to Perth Australia. I almost joined Priceline in Australia and had the opportunity of catching up with Jack and Martin in Melbourne which was memorable. I went on to run a business and the started my own Art Business which has been running for some 14 years.
Now with grandkids its time to sit back and ponder over all those early years and thank my lucky stars that I had a marvellous opportunity to work with so many wonderful people !
John Plaut (6 Years Service at Clicks)
Another incident that happened to me when I was manager of Three Anchor Bay Store.
The checkout supervisor called me to the front one day and advised me that there is a very abusive man swearing at one of our cashiers who was pregnant at the time.
I went up to the customer who was still be abusive to the cashier and by this time the cashier was crying from the abuse being dished out.
I told the customer to leave the store and his reply was “I will tell Jack Goldin about you.”
Just about Everyone in the Sea Point and Three Anchor Bay virtually knew Jack Goldin.
An hour went by and there was a call from June Kritzinger for me telling me that Jack wants to see me in his office now about a serious matter.
I thought at the time well if I am going to be fired then so be it – people were being fired for less – so I was told.
I went to head office and I was asked to go immediately into Jack’s office.
He immediately told me that he was disappointed in me for telling a customer to leave the store and never to do that again.
I simply said to him that I was sorry to have told the customer to leave but if he or anyone swears at one of my staff members again I would do exactly the same.
He looked at me smiled and said “That is all” and I never heard about that issue again.
Jack I found through my 6 or so years at Clicks respected people who stood their ground for the right reasons.
John Plaut (6 Years Service at Clicks)
My first story was when I was Assistant Manager to Cyril Chiert in St Georges Street Branch and one day just after lunch we got a tip off that “the old man” (Jack ) was going to visit us shortly.
Cyril was shaking in his boots as the store was very untidy after a very busy lunch time trade. He said to me “John I think I am going to be fired if Jack comes in as the shelves are empty “ We were short-staffed that day and we were doing our best to fill up as quick as we could.
Well within 30 mins Jack walked in and the checkout lady called for Mr Chiert to the checkout. Cyril ran to the front and met Jack. Jack went through the aisles with him and absolutely crapped him out.
Shelf by shelf , aisle by aisle, Jack then took him through the storeroom and the scolding continued. “Why are the boxes open, why are the shelves empty, where’s the staff badges” and so on
Then Jack went out of the back door and worked his way to another store.
When Jack had left Cyril called me and told me he thinks he is going to be fired and he immediately phoned his wife and told her to expect it.
Thirty minutes passed and the PA announced” Mr Chiert to the phone- Mr Goldin on the Line”
Cyril said to me “John this is it – Its over for me” as he almost in tears went to take the call.
He was on the phone for less than a minute and came back to me and said “you never believe what Jack said to me”
He simply asked me “what colour car I wanted”, and I asked him “ And so what did you say” and Cyril replied “ I told him any colour as long as its blue”
That was Jack Goldin hard as nails but a heart of gold!
John Plaut (6 Years Service at Clicks)
Retail entrepreneur Jack Goldin was a serial innovator, turning small shops into big brands, and then selling at a profit. Goldin established his stores based on health, beauty and gifts at the best prices and became the golden child of South African Retail.
The first brand Goldin started was a little store called Pick n Pay. This grew into three small stores which he sold in 1967, because rumour has it, the pressure of running three stores became too great.
With the money he earned from selling Pick n Pay, he started another little shop in August 1968, the first Clicks store in St Georges Street, Cape Town. Then the number of Clicks stores began to grow.
Goldin ran Clicks very successfully from 1968 to 1988, when he finally sold the chain. He opened Clicks stores across the country, first in West Street in Durban, then in Pritchard Street in Johannesburg.
Goldin’s vision was to start the Clicks brand in South Africa, based on what he had seen of the drugstore concept in the United States. Due to pharmacy legislation at the time, Clicks was prohibited from becoming a fully fledged drugstore. However, it filled an important market niche in South Africa and grew rapidly on account of its unique mix of health, home and beauty products at very reasonable prices.
Clicks always remained true to the founder’s vision. In 2004 the first Clicks Pharmacy opened in Cape Town after the legislation changed in 2003.
In 1979 Clicks was listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), and this ushered in a whole new era. Goldin was still intent on growing and expanding Clicks and in the 1980’s new stores opened around the country with a new Clicks head office building in Cape Town. Goldin’s expansion plan even included the acquisition of a retail chain, Discom.
Goldin finally sold Clicks to Score Food Group in 1988, after 20 years of skipper of the successful Clicks voyage. but this was not the end of Godlin’s achievements. He emigrated to Australia, where he co-founded the Priceline brand along the same principles as Clicks. He used the same unique mix of health, home and beauty products . Today, Priceline is one of the fastest-growing brands in Australia.
After 10 years of building the Priceline brand in Australia, he sold his shares in the business in 1988 to none other than New Clicks Holdings. Goldin was building yet another brand in Australia when he died in 2001.
Today Goldin’s legacy is evident in the three successful retail brands that are still growing and expanding every year: Pick n Pay, Clicks and Priceline.
Goldin’s flair for taking small stores and turning them into big money-spinning brands is a big part of Clicks’ past and current success.
Source: 40 years of Clicks 1968 – 2008 Magazine pages 24, 25
“One usual working day during 1965, I picked up the phone to find Jack Goldin on the line. Predating his days as king of the Clicks’ empire, Jack was interested at that time in developing Cape Town grocery stores in a modern way. Strictly speaking, he was the opposition but I remembered how kind and accommodating the Americans had been to me when I wanted to inspect their stores. I told him that he was most welcome to have a look around. I met him at the airport and personally gave him a tour. Afterwards he said he had been amazed at the courtesy and friendship I had showed him. This event had an unexpected repercussion a little later, when I ended up acquiring as my own a store into which he had incorporated all of my best ideas.
I received a phone call from my brother-in-law, Issy Fine, in Cape Town, who at least offered some opportunity for action. “Get on a plane, Raymond,” Issy enthused, “and come and see a wonderful little chain called Standard Provisions that’s going very cheaply.” If Standard Provisions didn’t fit the bill, Jack Goldin had three little stores called Pick ‘n Pay with a forth cash store, Suburban Provisions, on the market although at an asking price way out of my league.
As I put the phone down, surprised by the surge of intuitive excitement I felt, a recent conversation flashed into my mind. I had been mulling over my future options with my friend Ivan Lazarus, wondering whether I really should start a new retail chain, when Ivan suddenly said, “Look out for a business where there’s tea already been made, Raymond.” He meant that I should look out for an exciting business that was already trading, where I wouldn’t have to start from scratch.
A few days later, I flew into Cape Town to look over Issy’s finds. It was a Tuesday – always my lucky day – I had my baby son Jonathan – always my lucky charm – with me. I handed the baby over to his grandmother and set off with Issy to look at his first choice chain, Standard Provisions, on offer at R150,000. Before leaving Johannesburg, I had arranged a facility for that amount with my bank in case I found I shared Issy’s enthusiasm, but after we had toured the little chain I had to tell Issy, bargain or not, it wasn’t for me. I did not want to start a chain of my own, but not with these stores, which were too general. I really wanted to concentrate on food, start from scratch with a proper supermarket, not take over department stores with small after-thought food sections – the problem at the core of many battles I fought with Greatermans.
Issy, meanwhile, was treading the path of prudence. He kept reminding me that the price ticket on the remaining purchase option – the three Pick ‘n Pay stores and cash store making up Suburban Provisions – was way out of range at an asking price of R620,000. But I was strangely drawn and still anxious to look them over. The fact that these were Jack Goldin’s stores struck me as an omen. Jack, you might recall, had contacted me in Johannesburg while I was still in charge of the Checkers chain, to ask if he could tour our stores as he was looking for ideas to incorporate into this very chain of his in Cape Town. I had gone out of my way to make him welcome, to show him around and to share expertise just as my American mentors had done with me.
Now, in an ironic twist, I found myself looking over shops organised precisely according to my own ideas. Jack had put what he had learned from my Checkers stores into practice in the very stores I was now hoping – tremendously – to buy. When I spoke to Jack Goldin that Tuesday in 1966, he told me he wanted to sell because the pressures were too great. He knew his asking price was high but this was what he intended to hold out for. He also suggested a partnership as an alternative, but I was still too bitter after my experiences in Greatermans to want anything other than complete control.
However, I also wanted Jack’s business – badly. Once Issy saw that my mind was made up, he took me off to meet with his brilliant young accountant, Harold Gorvy. Harold saw my steely resolve and immediately started working on ways and means. He told me I would have to go back to my bank in Johannesburg to raise extra funds, but that it should also be possible, with my reputation, to enlist the participation of vendors from Johannesburg and Cape Town, to raise loan capital in such a way as to allow me to keep the control that was so close to my heart.
The hours flew past. It seemed we had only just talking when Jack Goldin arrived with his advisers. We all sat down around a green baize card table and negotiations started in earnest. Just as he had said he would, Jack held out for his R620,000. Issy and Harold advised to go in at R580,000, maximum R600,000. Arguments went back and forth, but all the time, with all my being, I could feel how badly I wanted this deal. In the end, I said to Jack that I would give him his R620,000, whereupon Issy kicked me so hard on the ankle under the table that it took me a year to get my ankle right.
I offered to settle the asking price as R600,000 cash with R20,000 provided to Jack in the Raymond Ackerman shares I was going to issue. The shares were offered as compensation for Jack helping me in the hand-over of the business. He would work for me for six months while I assemble a team. Jack’s advisers were very against allowing him to accept my offer, but he finally decided to follow his own council and agreed to my terms of payment. By 1.00 a.m. on Wednesday morning the deal was done.
This ushered in a period of frenetic activity on our part because now we had to find the money that Jack Goldin and his advisers assumed we had had all along. I was required to transfer the funds on Friday, so we had only three days.
Organising the funds for Jack Golding blurred into a few nail-biting days of enormous nervous intensity. When the necessary funds were to hand and I was able to breathe freely again, I suddenly remembered the strange incident in Kirstenbosch Gardens when I had heard the voice of my deceased father telling me to return to Cape Town. As an utmost sceptic when it comes to matters psychic or paranormal, I now knew I had received guidance. I was returning to Cape Town.
When I acquired Pick ‘n Pay, I didn’t know a great deal about buying – the crucial component in retailing. I was therefore very pleased that Jack Goldin had agreed to stay for six months to help me with the company, particularly as he was an absolute, if unconventional, master at the art of buying. Jack’s buying skills were to tide me over until John Lawley, a big, vibrant, personality-plus Scotsman I had hired from Greatermans for his wonderful, aggressive buying skills, could join me in Cape Town.
In those early days, I learned an enormous amount just watching Jack outmanoeuvre the big chains. His real forte was in chicken buying, where he would play intricate games with suppliers, negotiating tough deals when they were at a disadvantage. I didn’t always agree with all the tactics, in fact I very often disagreed, but I loved to listen to it all. Jack had an especially wily way of dealing with Des Lurie, supplier of County fair chickens. Knowing that Des played golf every Wednesday afternoon, Jack would make a point of opening tough negotiations with the County Fair people at those times. As arguments flew back and forth, frantic County Fair Chickens people would keep contacting Des, who was vainly trying to get through his match. In the end, Des would always come on the line, fuming, and tell Jack out of sheer exasperation that he could have his price if Jack would leave him alone to finish his round in peace. I had the utmost respect for Jack’s talent as a buyer and as a merchant.”
Source: Book title: Hearing Grasshoppers Jump
The story of Raymond Ackerman as told to Denise Prichard
Copyright 2001 Raymond Ackerman
The following letter was received by Mr Goldin way back in 1977 from former Clickers now in America, pointing out that the Yanks are not always so hot and have been taught a thing or two by us South Africans.
Dear Mr. Goldin,
It is over a year since we left Cape Town for America and a lot of water has gone under the bridge.
There are many, many days since leaving South Africa that Cyril and I talk about your wonderful country.
In South Africa one hears about the wonderful American ways of doing business, but believe me Clicks and the Clicks systems take some beating.
I, as you know, work for Simbula* Fifth Ave., and work in a sophisticated cosmetic department – but they had no idea how to order. It was just hit and miss – then little me showed them the Clicks system which they have now introduced into all their 39 stores.
Cyril has been working for a chain of drugstores and has come home with stories of stock in the aisles, open stock in the store-rooms and complete lack of stock control.
In short, we have learned a lot from Clicks and can assure you that all you Clickers can hold your head up high with the knowledge that your company could function better than most in this country.
ETHEL & CYRIL
Source: Clicks News May-Oct 1977
By Barbara Streisand Harry Bell
(Couldn’t resist that.)
I have many memories of my time working with Jack so here goes.
1. I was doing a month in the air force when Clicks first opened and was working at Woolies at the time. I remember one of the opening specials was Bicycle playing cards for next to nothing. One of the card playing permanent air force members asked me why I didn’t go work for this new company so he could get cards cheap. I remember saying to him “They’ll never last” Little did I know that within a few months I would be working there and would spend 35 very happy years there.
2. We had not been open very long and my late wife was a supervisor at Clicks. On receiving her year-end bonus the first year she was so annoyed by how little it was she turned to Jack and said “If this is all you can afford you obviously need it more than me” and gave it back to him. Everyone thought there was going to be an eruption of volcanic proportion but he was more hurt than annoyed and tried to get her to accept it. She refused to accept it and he refused to take it back. How long it sat in that office safe I do not know.
3. One winter we had a particularly heavy downpour and when I got into my store, the old St Georges street store in the old Waldorf Restaurant, I found the staff canteen about 4 inches under water. I phone Jack to report it and he came through to the shop. He took one look at it and said “This reminds me of my bedroom at home”
4. The St Georges St store, having the Sea Point bus terminus outside its front doors, was one of the two busiest stores (takings per square meter) in the country. At lunch times you could only walk through the crowds sideways, like a crab. This particular lunch hour Jack was in the store and had seen something that upset him and was really tearing into me. All of a sudden a customer touched him on the arms and said “When you’ve finished abusing this young man may I have some service please” Jack immediately calmed down and left the store. I turned to the customer and thanked her and asked how “Can I help you” “No” she said, I thought you needed the help”
5. Being right at one of the busiest bus stops in Cape Town the windows and doors of the store were always being dirtied and messed with. One particular morning I arrived at the store with the late Peter Watts who had the keys. He tried to open the doors but someone had stuffed match sticks into the lock and the keys would not turn. Peter tried and tried and managed to soften the wood but could not get the key to turn. There we stood, way past opening time, trying to get the doors open. Suddenly Jack arrived and took the keys from Peter. He put them in the lock and typical – they turned first time. Jack just had that knack.
I loved my time at Clicks.
We were the first to discount vinyl records. That put the cat among the pigeons. We were also the first to discount paperback books. Their prices had been previously controlled so that was very exciting for our customers.
Our working hours were very strange. We had to stay until the shelves were full, sometimes till one o’clock in the morning. There was no overtime. It was just part of what working in retail was like back then. But the advantage was that we did not work weekends. You finished on Saturday lunchtime and that was it.
We were one of the first retailers to move towards integration in management. Jack Goldin was a visionary whose thinking was ahead of his time. He said “The time is going to come when things are going to change so let us be first.” We were in fact the first to put people of colour on the tills, which caused a bit of consternation, but Jack believed in ability above anything else.
I loved my time at Clicks. It was great to be there from the beginning. The opportunities for promotion were unbelievable because the company was growing so fast. The company was becoming so successful and that success rubbed on us. We liked to be linked to Clicks’ success.
I was told that I was not allowed to take out one of my staff.
I first met my wife, Les, when we were both working for Woolworths. However, our romance did not start then as Les returned to England for one and half years.
Shortly after I started managing the St Georges Street Branch, Les returned to South Africa and joined Clicks as a Supervisor.
Things started to happen but our romance was to receive a setback.
I was told that I was not allowed to take out one of my staff.
While I was most upset with this I must admit it is very difficult and trying working with someone you are keen on. We “broke up” but only for a while and then continued our romance in secret helped by Dal Hack who used to take us out in his car so that no one would see us. This was a very unsatisfactory time for both of us and shortly after I was transferred to Plein Street I decided to see Mr Goldin and let him decide whether or not Les should leave Clicks.
I sat opposite Mr Goldin with my knees shaking but was told we could do what we liked as long as we were not in the same shop.
Source: Clicks News November 1975 page 3
Source: 40 years of Clicks 1968 – 2008 Magazine page 95
Harry Bell with Clicks from 1969 to 2003