Woolworths scoops National Business of the Year Award

Written by Vernon Cheung

November 10, 2014

Pitched as the Oscars of South African Business, over 100 local and multinational businesses vied for pole position at the 12th National Business Awards which recognise outstanding performance in business, industry and government.

Retail giant Woolworths has fended off short-listed contenders, Absa Life, Billion Group, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals and PPC Limited to take home the coveted headline award, the National Business of the Year Award sponsored by Liberty Corporate, in the 12th Annual National Business Awards (NBA).

The awards, which were held at the Emperors Palace, Johannesburg on Wednesday 5 November and included such titles as the Top Performing Entrepreneur, Top Young Executive, Infrastructure Development and Investing in People Awards, not only honour top performers of the year in business and industry, but also have a strong emphasis on training and skills development which is key to productivity and profitability.

“The National Business Awards are vital to the South African economy because they create business icons and we need the youth to have great role models in business to whom they can look up,” says Ralf Fletcher, CEO Topco Media, which runs the National Business Awards in conjunction with its Top Performing Companies publication.

“It helps to boost standards and raise the bar for quality and service. South Africa needs to compete on a global scale and such competitions encourage business to strive to compete at a higher level. It allows our local listed and unlisted companies a chance to gauge their success against some of the best and most iconic companies in the world,” says Fletcher.

To be shortlisted as a finalist, companies must meet criteria such as an annual turnover of at least R35 million, strong year-on-year growth and provide a compelling motivation to an external panel of judges.

“The calibre of applicants was very high this year. I was truly amazed, proud and inspired by what many of these applicants have achieved,” said Lance Fanaroff, NBA judge and joint CEO, Integr8.

“Top performing businesses and business leaders in today’s climate are those who have stood out among their peers and continued to grow and prosper in spite of the challenging economic climate. In today’s world one of the key elements to success is a solid and renowned reputation with a proven ability to deliver. This award endorses the winners as those who stand-out and are exemplary leaders in business.”

Liberty, as sponsor of the National Business of the Year Award, was proud to play a role in the NBA 2014. “We support the development and recognition of successful businesses. It is important to recognise companies which best demonstrate excellence and a passion for what they do. This applies in all spheres of the general criteria (people, planet and profit) and the management thereof,” said Deon Swart, Acting Chief Executive, Liberty Corporate.

Swart said awards such as these recognise the passion of people through the success of their business and provide an opportunity to reward well-deserved successful achievement across all segments of the corporate market, helping to create the positive awareness business needs to thrive.

Woolworths, which also won the Corporate Citizenship Award for their corporate social investment work and the Sustainability Award on top of the National Business of the Year Award, said in a statement it was delighted by these results. “This recognition honors our deep commitment to the values that underpin our difference: quality and style, value for money, service, innovation, integrity, energy, and sustainability.”

“It is an honour to have been short-listed for the National Business of the Year award and be recognised for the work we do to ensure our customers get the best service we can offer,” says Jannie Venture, Managing Executive, Absa Life.

Venter said the biggest challenge facing business today is not adapting fast enough to meet the needs of customers. “It is no secret that technology is a great disruptor. Businesses that rest easy on past successes will be surpassed by those that are nimbler in delivering solutions in a more cost-effective manner.”

He said Absa Life got around this by continuing to invest in its people to build skills and capability, particularly in customer service, and by leveraging its competitive advantage as a part of a global business.

“Being short-listed for awards of this nature reinforces our work and further reassures us that as an organisation, we can push the boundaries in making a sustainable impact in the communities in which we operate,” said Andrea Meyer, Digital Public Relations Specialist, PPC Cement.

“Such recognition encourages us to strive to achieve more and aim higher. It also helps to build employee pride. We link the strength of our business directly to our people, so we are honoured to be acknowledged for the work that PPC is doing.”


National Business Award titles and winners were:


  • Lifetime Achiever Award: Dr Christoffel Wiese
  • Top Young Executive of the Year (under 40) (Sponsored by TUMI): Dr Ayanda Vilakazi, Coega Development Corporation
  • Top Performing Entrepreneur of 2014 Award: Nritika Singh, Isilumko Staffing
  • Top Performing Business Leader of the Year: Sisa Ngebulana, Billion Group

Government Award

  • Top Performing Public Service Award Coega Development Corporation

Sector Award

  • Transport & Logistics Award (Sponsored by the Railway Safety Regulator): DHL Express

Organisation Awards

  • The Corporate Citizenship Award: Woolworths
  • Customer Focus Award: (Sponsored by Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone): Business Connexion
  • Diversity in the Workplace Award PPC Ltd
  • Sustainability Award: Woolworths
  • Fast Growth Award (Sponsored by the Department of Public Enterprises): Recruitgroup
  • Innovation through Technology Award (Sponsored by Air Traffic & Navigation Services (ATNS)): South African Nuclear Energy Corporation
  • Investing in People Award (Sponsored by Sechaba Medical Solutions): Haw & Inglis Civil Engineering
  • Infrastructure Development Award (Sponsored by AM Consulting Engineers): Coega Development Corporation

Headline Award

  • The National Business of the Year Award (Sponsored by Liberty Corporate): Woolworths


Issued by: Topco Media, TOPCO002 NBA Winner Announcement
Contact details: Natasha Arendorf, natasha@rothko.co.za, 021 448 9465

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