SOPA Trading Group was founded in 1983 by a group of entrepreneurs and businessmen who saw an opportunity for a discount retail and wholesale chain operating in the working class and middle class suburban area of the vast Cape Flats region of Cape Town South Africa. The group specialized in general grocery lines, fresh produce and high quality branded mass market consumer products; retailing and distributing directly to customer. Despite many years of political and economic discrimination by the previous Apartheid government and financial institutions, the group has survived and thrived, to become a prominent, vibrant and successful independent retail and wholesale business operation.
While the many staff members and management are to be thanked for their many years of hard work and dedication, there is one man who is the inspiration, motivation and driving-force behind the group’s success. He is none other than Mr Hamza S.M. Essack our Managing Director and Chairman of the Board. Lacking financial resources and due to the discrimination he faced as a youth in South Africa, he was unable to complete his schooling. He learnt the retailing trade more than fifty years ago working at his ‘apprenticeships’ in various retail businesses. Being an entrepreneur at heart he ventured into small businesses and with some partners, pioneered the first supermarkets in South Africa, often with his own savings or from funds borrowed from family or friends, since banks would not freely loan money to Asian or black traders. In the early 1980’s, with the experience gained through his earlier ventures, he and a group of like-minded businessmen established the SOPA Trading Company (Pty) Ltd, which operated a supermarket, trading as Winners Supermarket. Mr Essack was very much a hands-on owner manager, and would be directly involved in the buying, merchandising, warehousing and administration aspects of the business. With his business acumen, warm personality, coupled with many years of dedicated hard work and a pledge to give his customers lowest prices and excellent service, sales increased and the customers flocked in and made the business a great success. He can still be found on the shop floor greeting his customers warmly with a smile as they enter the flagship store. The business is very much a ‘family business’, with Mr Essack’s sons, daughter, brother and nephews playing important roles in the management of the business. We are known to combine “good business sense with good family values”.
In 1999, SOPA Wholesalers trading as Winners Cash and Carry was established comprising of 6000 square meters of trading and warehousing space. This enabled us to buy large volumes of merchandise obtaining bulk discounts from our suppliers, which we then passed on to our appreciative customers at discounted prices. We rank amongst the top independent buyers and stockists of companies such as Coca Cola, Lays/Simba, Tigerbrands, Nestle, Nampak, Kelloggs, Unilever, Cadbury, etc. While we mostly stock well-known local and international branded products, increasingly many of our sweets, candies, chocolate, biscuit and canned foods products are imported from abroad. We are also one of the first Cash n Carry stores to offer our Customers the chance to buy shrinks instead of full cases, giving smaller house shops an opportunity to buy their trading stock at discounted prices.