The Success Story of Mr Price: How To Build A Billion Dollar Retail Empire

Mr Price is a publicly traded South African retailer well known for its focus on value. The company operates through four segments:

  1. Apparel
  2. Home
  3. Financial Services
  4. Telecoms

The Apparel segment retails clothing, footwear, sportswear, sporting equipment and accessories. The Home segment retails homewares. The Financial Services segment manages the company’s trade receivables and sells financial services products. The Telecoms segment sells cellular products and services. Its financial services division also provides credit, insurance and cellular products and services.

Founded in 1985, Mr Price opened in 1987 after the owners bought a controlling interest in John Orrs Holdings, whose trading divisions at the time were The Hub and Miladys.

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Laurie Chiappini and Stewart Cohen

It all began in Durban, South Africa. One idea by two visionaries quickly grew to multiple stores around the country.

Founders Laurie Chiappini and Stewart Cohen both started out on shop floors and when they met in autumn 1979 a relationship evolved based on mutual trust and a positive vision for the future of retail.

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Their prior employment experiences in retail had given them a negative view of typical businesses and they believed there was a better way of doing business – one where individuals could exploit their full potential.

In early 1985, Laurie and Stewart recognised factory shops as the future but unfortunately, they didn’t have the money to establish one. They felt clothing prices were too high and dreamt of a new kind of factory shop selling quality merchandise at lower prices.

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This would be a third generation factory shop boasting attractive interiors, wanted merchandise and incredible advertising, but a very low cost structure to allow for low margins off high volumes.

The very first Mr Price stores were franchised due to lack of funds.

John Orrs Ltd

However in 1986, Stewart and Laurie managed to get financing from a bank and acquired John Orrs Ltd, which also owned The Hub and Miladys. The company began opening Mr Price stores and acquiring the franchised stores.

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Alastair McArthur joined the company as the CEO, and the name of the company was changed over time to the Mr Price Group.

Under McArthur’s reign, Mr Price apparel stores were opened rapidly throughout South Africa and by 1995 there were 237 stores. Mr Price Home(1998), Mr Price Sport(2007), and Mr Price Baby(2022) were also established over the years.

Today there’s 1721+ corporate-owned stores in Southern Africa, 24+ franchised stores abroad and also its online channels.

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On top of expanding the Mr Price brand, the group also made a number of key acquisitions in addition to Miladys:

  • Sheet Street
  • Power Fashion
  • Yuppiechef
  • Studio88 Group(Studio 88, Skipper Bar, Side Step and John Craig)


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