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Built on faith and determination, Woolworths began life in what had been the dining room of the old Royal Hotel in Cape Town on a sunny October morning in 1931. The national economy was not one that looked to favour a new business and many predicted an early failure. They didn’t know the founding father, Max Sonnenberg. A determined man, assisted by his son Richard and Fred Kossuth, then 22 and an “office boy”, Sonnenberg set about capturing the public’s imagination with a store policy that set Woolworths apart.

In 1934 Woolworths opened a second branch in Durban, followed in 1935 by branches in Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg. Shareholders who bought Woolworths stock in 1936 at 75c a share would have seen that stock grow to many, many times its original price as the Woolworths brand has become an entrenched icon in South African retail.

Since its inception 74 years ago, the Woolworths brand has become synonymous with innovation, quality and value for money. With their wide appeal, Woolworths goods are now sold at 149 corporate stores, 51 international franchise stores throughout the rest of Africa and the Middle East and 69 South African franchise stores nationwide.

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