October 30, 2019

Executive Digest rubric – The human warmth of Africa

In January last year, Pedro Pereira da Silva crossed the Equator Line and moved with his family to Cape Town, where the Pick n ‘Pay Group is headquartered. In Africa he found affective and great hearted people.

He manages the operations of Pick n ‘Pay Retail, the second largest retailer in Africa, with around 1800 stores in various food and non-food retail formats, with 85,000 employees and sales of around € 5 billion. With 90% of operations in South Africa, it is in six additional countries in the region. He previously held the chairmanship of the Moscow-based Dixy Group, the country’s third largest retailer with over 2800 stores – supermarkets, hypermarkets and cash & carry. In his previous experience, he was Chief Operating Officer of the Jerónimo Martins Group, accumulating the role of Country Manager of Poland and later Portugal, leading the project of opening the first Feira Nova hypermarket in Lisbon and CEO of Lidosol and João Gomes Camacho Cash & Carry supermarkets, in Madeira. 

He was also founder and president of the Poland-Portugal Chamber of Commerce, State Councilor in Portugal for the internationalization of the Portuguese economy, member of the board of the Polish association ECR – Efficient Consumer Response and founder and member of the board of POHID – Association of Retail Companies in Poland.

He holds a degree in Economics from NOVA University of Lisbon, an MBA from Harvard Business School in Boston, and completed the Program for Executive Development at IMD in Switzerland.


He is admittedly a leader with strategic vision, present, inspiring, motivating, challenging and a strong team builder. A full-fledged and professionally accomplished manager with diverse acknowledgments and a life enriched by (and enriching) retail giants.

You manage the second largest retailer in Africa. A challenge…

A rich experience and a big challenge. Africa is different, with other realities and challenges, compared to the countries in Europe and South America where I had the opportunity to manage and lead. The market in general, and particularly in South Africa, is quite diverse by different cultures, consumer habits, purchasing powers, with a broader social stratification reflected in the associated purchasing powers. Regardless of the continuing macroeconomic challenges in the region, there is great potential for growth and development.

Is Africa warmth or a continent nearby the sea?

Apart from the natural beauty of many parts of the continent, the diversity that exists, human warmth is surely the defining factor, a people with great affection and a big heart. Generally speaking, the workers are dedicated, engaging, cheerful, energetic and early risers.

He is considered one of the key managers associated with the expansion and success of the Biedronka chain store in Poland. What do you remember of these times and main teachings?

Naturally I have always present the 25 years of career in the Group Jerónimo Martins, unique moments of great happiness, great intensity, dynamic growth, value creation, strong bonds of friendship and unforgettable memories for life. In my many experiences throughout my career, the JM Group has been and is surely one of the best business schools, culture, values ​​and business dynamics sustained over the decades. 10 years in Poland as CEO of Biedronka and 5 years later as Group COO have been and will always be a milestone in my professional, personal and family life. It is unusual to find such a strong culture and high level of loyalty with a high level of alignment at the various organizational levels of the group. The Biedronka’s unique success story in Poland is surely a source of great pride for all those involved in the development and growth of the store chain, and I remember the great and continuing moments of professional achievement and goals achieved by the teams.

What are the best moments of your career?

For all that is involved, dynamic growth and results achieved over the period as CEO of Polish operations was certainly one of the most remarkable moments, as well as the current Pick n ‘Pay optimization project in view of the complexity of the operation with 1800 stores in various formats and different branches of activity.

And the least positive?

The period that I find the least positive was the experience in Russia as Chairman of the Dixy group, for the short time, the hardships faced and the failure to finalize the implementation of the necessary structural changes.

What is your role as a Portuguese Diaspora Counselor in the world?

The main role is to represent Portugal in the world, in the geographies where I am present, being a privilege and an honor to be involved with our country as Diaspora Counselor. I take this mission with great responsibility, providing my knowledge and contacts for the development of Diaspora activities as recently happened at the organization of the Euro Africa Forum.

By Executive Digest, October 2019