Maplewave Consulting - PEP Cell

Pep telco store front


PEP is a large African retailer of clothing, homewares, and cellular products. Operating in more than 11 African countries, PEP is a market leader in the sale of prepaid devices. With the introduction of new products and financial services offerings, PEP needed an international, strategic assessment to future-proof their cellular division. Maplewave’s consulting process was the answer.


PEP is a multinational retail company based in Cape Town, South Africa. Founded in 1965, PEP operates in more than 11 countries across Africa, including South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, and Swaziland.

The group operates 3 types of stores under the PEP brand; large PEP stores, and smaller PEP Home and PEP Cell stores that focus on homewares and cellular products.

The company has over 2000 stores in operation, with more than 20,000 employees. It also owns and runs the largest clothing factory in southern Africa, where it manufactures much of its clothing.

PEP’s target market is the massive lower-to-middle income end of the market. As such, it seeks to sell low-cost clothes and is the largest single-brand retailer in South Africa. They are also the market leader in the sale of prepaid mobile devices, with more than 50% market share across South Africa. PEP is a subsidiary of Pepkor Group, which in turn is owned by Steinhoff International Group.

Pain Points

PEP operates over 500 stand-alone cellular stores under the brand, PEP Cell. They have enjoyed a phenomenal growth period in the 9 years since they entered the cellular market. Despite this, their forward-thinking management team wanted to evaluate their current operations and identify some next steps so they can continue their success story over the next decade.

PEP Cell stores were incredibly busy, and often operated over-capacity with large queues, particularly during wage-check or pay-out cycles where consumers would rush to replenish their cellular service.

Low-cost mobiles were the staple of the product set, however, an increasing reliance on consumer finance products and services led to some discussions around future offerings.

PEP had never employed an external consultant before, and they felt the timing right to conduct such an exercise.


Understanding the history and the culture of the business was critical to Maplewave’s recommendations. As a local brand with a long history of customer success, it was important that customers still felt the stores were a central part of their community.

The low-cost business model was another factor, as PEP clearly had a strong place in the consumer cellular industry of South Africa. However, the business model also dictated the product set and the ambition in some cases; quickly moving to a postpaid model was not the only simple solution.

The Solution

Maplewave’s consulting team was exactly what PEP needed. Our VP Sales & Marketing, Will Gibson, visited over 40 different PEP, PEP Home, and PEP Cell stores over a period of 6-8 days in Cape Town and Johannesburg in July 2017.

Will identified 13 pain points and 2 possible future threats to the success of PEP’s cellular business. These were mapped to a list of 28 recommendations which included 10 “quick win” projects, 12 cross-functional projects (medium term) and 6 strategic and directional goals.

Our recommendations were delivered in a comprehensive post-visit report that was used by PEP to formalize their strategic goals for 2018. In only 10 days, PEP gained thorough insight into their current performance – benchmarked on a global scale – as well as a specific roadmap for improvement.


Our recommendations were prioritized based on ease of implementation, impact on the business, and cost to deploy. They were then slated for completion throughout the course of 2018. This included a focus on different merchandising techniques designed to drive sales, as well as a mobile device diagnostic project that facilitates the quick repair of devices in-store, reducing the need for unnecessary, costly returns to the repair centre.


Struggling to see what’s coming next? Maplewave’s award-winning consultants know telco retail on a global basis, and our experience is invaluable in knowing what priorities to attack first. The results of such a fast, yet focused process is simply stunning! Contact Maplewave to see how we can transform you into an industry leader today!

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