Supporting the future of our people

Our People

At Premier we strive for excellence in what we do by recognising the impact our activities have on our people. The Premier Way defines our strategy execution model and focuses on processes, structures and principles that guide and develop our culture of high-performance. We are committed to providing full and productive employment and a safe, inclusive working environment for all of our employees. We prioritise skills development with a focus on compliance training, critical and scarce skills development, leadership, supervisory and junior management development. Through pro-active on the job training we aim to ensure functional competence for all operators and provide coaching for performance improvement.

A strategic priority is to promote the health and safety of all our employees. In order to achieve a safe working environment, we have established an integrated Risk Management Programme with the aim of ensuring compliance with applicable Health and Safety legislation and to implement best practice in the FMCG industry. Training and awareness programmes are ongoing to retain focus on employee health and safety in the workplace. Both physical and mental health is essential to wellbeing and productivity, which in turn protects our consumers by ensuring that attention to product quality is sustained. We provide access to wellness programmes, internal communications raising awareness, counselling and employee health checks to further ensure the well-being of our employees.

Our workforce is diverse, but unified through our shared set of common values, which are rooted in dignity and equality. A team that is diverse in gender, race, age, experience, skills and culture encourages inclusion and brings with it a value add which we aim to optimise for the benefit of the company. Job satisfaction and recognition through skills development, talent management, diversity and growth opportunities are key to our success.

The People pillar of our sustainability strategy is aligned with the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

Quality Education
Gender Equality
Decent work and Economic Growth
Reduced Inequalities

Our People Stories

The Premier team gathered at Monte Casino to recognise and celebrate our high performers at the Premier Star Awards. The star awards recognise individuals and teams across the operations, and functional support teams, including those with long service and who have consistently executed on the Premier purpose – our products and people make a real difference in the everyday lives of our consumers.

Kobus Gertenbach, CEO of Premier FMCG, recognised the winners at the event, “The Premier Way is about being brilliant at the basics, motivating each other to grow and improve beyond measure, and leading from the heart and the head to build each other. Thank you to every one of you for working and growing together.”

The notable triumphs were Konrad Boing winning the CEO Award, Susan Lombard winning the Premier Excellence Award, Nishola Harricharan winning the Customer Service Star Award, Cape Town Bakery for Bakery of the Year, Durban Mill for Mill of the Year and Lil-lets UK for Grocery Business of the Year.

Arran Steele, the National Account Manager for Lil-lets UK, snags the coveted Intrapreneurship Award for thinking ahead of the curve with his work on Amazon Marketplace. “Retail shelves are not elastic. Off the back of our maternity range’s strong performance and positive reviews, we identified an opportunity to have the full Lil-Lets range online and experiment with different pack formats.’’

Arran continues by talking about what contributed to the success, “This award is a team win. The marketing team put together great A+ content and an engaging, easy to navigate online shop. When COVID happened, and shopper behaviour changed, we had already established our point of difference which gave us a competitive edge.”

With over 9,000 reviews alone on 3 Maternity lines and over GBP 1M in revenue growth in one year, Arran is an example of a leader who innovates, implements, and focuses on results. Go to to explore our marketplace.

“If you want to succeed, it’s not only about the qualification. It’s about doing more, learning more, on the job and with a growth mindset. Don’t limit yourself to what you do in your position. Understand all the other links that connect to your division to achieve your ultimate goal,” says Johan Erasmus, the Merchandising and Sales Ops Executive for Premier FMCG.

Johan, who started as a Sales Representative in Bakeries, has walked the talk. “When I started, I would finish my job at 5 and start learning at 6. I would go into the factory, learn how to bake a loaf of bread, understand the warehouse process, and wake up to be on-site at 4 am to get on a truck to deliver freshly baked bread to customers.”

“To grow and be successful, don’t restrict yourself and say this is my job profile or job description. Understand how the whole machine works. This will give you insights, give you growth, and give a whole different mindset of how this business operates. If you are willing to learn, listen, adapt and take accountability, you will grow.”

Premier Eswatini Mahewu, our nutritional beverages site based in Eswatini, has recently been awarded a Food Safety Certification (FSSC 22000). Awarded on the first inspection, this is a shining example of how working together across different sites and functions within Premier FMCG can deliver outstanding results.
The Premier Eswatini Mahewu plant would like to thank the broader Premier teams who helped us succeed by providing guidelines, information, and support.
“Receiving the FFSC 22000 certification is an embodiment of the Premier FMCG culture of working together to enable growth and success. This will enable us to expand our footprint to more retailers in more territories.”, says Greg Bates, GM of Confectionery and Beverages.

Millwrighting is often viewed as “man’s work”. At Premier FMCG, as we celebrate #WomensMonth, we’re steadily changing that perception with every female artisan we develop.

Sanelisiwe’s small stature hides a big heart and a major desire to learn. “Premier is the best company to work for. I know I have to prove myself. I get really involved in my work, ask a lot of questions to understand the industry and take my studies seriously.”

Belinda wanted to be an Electrician from an early age. “I push myself to do the best I can and learn as much as I can. I want to be the reason Premier develops more female electricians. My grandfather told me that nothing is impossible in this world. Man or woman, you can achieve anything with talent and passion.”

Lesego has been with Premier FMCG since 2014. “I can see the industry changing. The company has come a long way to develop female Apprentices. I think it’s a job that a lot of women will enjoy – you’ll be surprised at what you’re really capable of.”

Selina started as an apprentice millwright. Now fully qualified, she is a valued member of Premier FMCG. “The best way to build credibility is the quality of my work: I knuckle down with the rest of them and always do my best.”

During a year with many challenges, Premier FMCG has succeeded in moving the needle on learnerships, with 83 employees receiving their NQF level 3 certification within 6 sites across South Africa.

“In line with our strategy to develop and retain talent, we would like to congratulate all the learners that have persevered, showing commitment and determination, despite these difficult times,” says Hannelie Swanepoel, the Head of Talent Development at Premier FMCG.

In April 2021, Kobus Gertenbach takes over as CEO from retiring Tjaart Kruger. As the CFO of Premier FMCG for the past 10 years, Kobus has played a key role in developing and executing the business strategy with a focus on developing people and investing in the infrastructure to enable the growth strategy.

As the new leader of Premier FMCG, Kobus is committed to building a high-performance culture and entrenching #ThePremierWay with strong business growth. With a solid foundation, cohesive leadership team, and a clear purpose that “our products and people make a difference in the everyday lives of our consumers”, Kobus’s innate understanding of the factors that have made Premier a success, sets him up to lead the business to unlock future growth.

For Kobus, the formula is simple, “Earn the right to operate in our communities; grow together to be the best; be brilliant at the basics. By doing this, we will deliver on our purpose and continue to build on our strength as a high performing business.”

As we enter our new fiscal, we recognise all the stars in Premier that help us shine bright. In a year that has been extraordinarily tough for many people, at our annual Star Awards, we were proud to announce and celebrate the individuals and teams that rose to the challenges of the last year showing grit, agility, innovative thinking and leadership.

At Premier, teamwork is a core part of #ThePremierWay. At the end of March, we recognised the importance of teams working together for one common goal in the key areas of health and safety, Invocoms, distribution, innovation and continuous improvement project, as well as many functional awards.

The awards closed out with the highly contested Grocery business, Mill and Bakery of the Year Awards with CIM Mozambique, Fort Jackson Mill and Cape Town Bakery snagging these coveted spots!

The Leadership team would like to thank each and every person within Premier for striving to make a positive contribution to the business in the past year. As we move forward, let’s continue to work as one. Together can we achieve greatness.

Within Premier, we believe that our people are our biggest asset, and that building inclusive teams will result in growth. In 2020, we continued to build the base with over R3 million allocated to our Apprentice and Learnerships development initiatives.

Our Leadership Academy focuses on building leadership and supervisory skills development. Through this programme, we recognise the importance of upskilling leadership and management behaviours for people that deal with big teams. Last year, we managed to impact approximately 2700 employees across 7 manufacturing plants and depots within the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal region to develop a purpose driven culture of transparency and inclusivity.

In 2021, we will continue to invest in building a future pipeline for all our manufacturing plants, while continuing to expand leadership and supervisory skills development in other regions to deliver long-term value to the organisation.

With a global move to virtual leadership, women are closer than ever to achieving an equal future. COVID19 has been an effective equaliser, allowing mothers the flexibility to raise a family and pursue a career. Today, we celebrate #InternationalWomensDay with women who #ChooseToChallenge.

Siobhan ‘O Sullivan, Group Marketing, Strategy & HPC Business Executive, “2020 helped us realise we can do so much more. We embraced a virtual world for social connections, schooling, shopping, work and managed teams that needed more coaching and mentoring so that they could excel. Aside from needing a real hug, our bonds with others are stronger”.

Sibongile Mooko, Marketing Executive, Milling, “Virtual leadership has been a great equaliser, not only for women, but for teams that don’t always sit in the same office. During this time, I have learnt that compassion, fun and regular check-ins, on both a work and personal level, is the glue that drives team performance.”

Stephanie Hoy, Marketing Executive, Bakeries, “The playing field has been levelled with different locations and more junior people being included in strategic meetings. This has enabled a culture of which has made the team stronger, more resilient and more engaged.”

Nothing says grit, tenacity and teamwork, like being able to build a factory and deliver innovation into the market within 10 months. The Confectionery Team brought the best version of themselves as individuals and as a team, with all functions from marketing to operations, sales, R&D and finance working together to make the entry into the boiled candy market segment, a reality.

From researching concepts, sourcing and commissioning equipment, creating exciting packaging designs, and finally taking product to trade, the Confectionery Team were able to take their new range of Manhattan Candies, Manhattan Pops and Super C Fruity C Candies to the market in record time.

Kate Ludwig, Marketing Executive of Confectionery & Beverages, conceptualised the project when she identified the opportunity to drive penetration into the middle-income market. “This project really shows how people, if they work together and believe in one goal, can achieve almost anything. For 10 months, we all lived and breathed this project to make it a reality.”

Greg Bates, GM Confectionery & Beverages, was the technical lead on the project. “It is incredible what a team of committed people can do, with tight deadlines and a limited budget. There is always a way. We call it Intrapraneurship”.

As we celebrate the power of women this weekend, we asked Yolanda from our Learning and Development Division about her personal journey.

“Lockdown has been tough, but I have learned from my experience that we can grow as people, as a couple, as a family and as an employee. We adapt, we conquer, we change, and we use the lessons learnt to be better, more efficient and as citizens.

Not seeing my 71-year-old mom, my only daughter and grandchild has been difficult. It is heart-breaking when your 4-year-old grandson sends you a voice note asking you to please phone the police asking for permission for him to come and see you. We had to postpone our June wedding – a dream put on hold. And then my fiancé mentioned he was not feeling well, and our household is in isolation. What follows-on with a C19 positive patient is frightening. Shortness of breath, loss of appetite and smell. The stress that follows daily wondering what will happen when you eventually fall asleep.

Throughout this, we have a “new normal” which starts with being extra vigilant about facemask, social distancing and sanitising regularly. My fiancé recovered, and I have also been blessed to be promoted within this time to focus on the upskilling and development of Premier employees. I am excited about the future.”

For many women this weekend, celebrating the strength of women, their ability to rise-up and achieve what they thought they could not possibly achieve, will be faced with mixed emotions. We asked Ana, a Silos Administration Officer for some words on how she has found some positives within the challenges.

“The biggest test for my family was separation. My husband works in another country, and with the borders closed, we haven’t seen him in months. While still working, I realised the gift that I had been given in spending more time with my daughters who are 3 and 8. With no day-care or school, I needed to find a way to balance my work and nurture my two girls. The bonding time making cookies and doing everything together around the house has given me a new perspective. I now know that it is, indeed, possible to maintain a healthy work-life balance, and one does not have to be sacrificed for another”

This year, celebrating women, their strength and how they have risen to conquer has been challenging for many. We asked Annemarie, a Wage Clerk within our Admin finance department how she was making it work.

“To be honest I have not been coping to well with this pandemic as I am a “touchy, huggy, feely” person. I cannot tell you how many times through this pandemic I have cried and just wished I could wrap my family, friends and colleagues in a bubble to keep them safe. I realised that I need to focus on my family’s health – both their emotional and mental wellbeing – to get us all through this tough time. This meant connecting through video calls and WhatsApp so we kept being surrounded with the ones we love that offer us the most support when times are tough.

I think the biggest challenge on delivering my job is controlling the anxiety around the whole pandemic and the deadlines itself. With this virus you can never plan your days or work priorities anymore. Having colleagues going and testing positive has been challenging. The only thing you can really do is pray and check in on them and stand in and filling different roles where needed.

My last thought is: Ladies…talk, talk, talk and then you talk a little more. Only by connecting can we stay united.”

This year, as we celebrate Women’s Day, we acknowledge the women within Premier that make it work, daily. Christina, a Senior Admin Officer, has managed to turn some of the challenges of lockdown into a time of unity.

“Since lockdown, the help I am used to has been taken away. I went from a career focussed mom of two girls, to someone that does all the housekeeping, cooking, schooling, a play friend, a mother and an employee who values my job. It is tough. I now wake up at 4am to clean the house and when I come home, there is still more to do.

My husband has been able to work from home, so I had no worries about someone staying with my daughters. This has been a big help.

I had to make a shift in mindset. I quickly realised I needed to be more “present” for my girls, get actively involved in schooling, but at the same time give them more responsibilities around the house so that we all work together as one family. More than 4 months in, we have formed deeper bonds as a family and have grown up a little more quickly than usual. I know that I have done what is right for my girls, and they will go back to school when this is over feeling empowered and confident that they can achieve what they want to achieve.”

“This year, Premier would like to celebrate all the women that have had challenges, but have chosen to rise up and conquer”, says Siobhan O’ Sullivan, Groups Strategy and Marketing Executive.

“As a leader, it is often assumed it is easier. But what we have all learnt, is that the impact of lockdown has been indiscriminate. Working from home, home schooling, grocery shopping and no household help has created challenges that I simply did not anticipate. A big part of this was a shift for all of us. As a leader, one of the biggest deliverables over the past few months has been to help transition the business to virtual meetings, making sure all our employees are emotionally supported, be it at work or at home, and a continued focus on health and safety.

For me, this has been a time of reflection, reprioritising the things that really matter to make a real difference to those around me in life and at work.

Today, I would like to say thank you to all the amazing women in Premier. May you continue unlocking your resilience, empathy and passion to build future generations”

In a time when employee health and safety is everything, Premier has embedded this into #ThePremierWay with a belief that it is our responsibility to share our learnings with the broader industry and engage with unions and community bodies.

While safety protocols like employee wellness screening, masks, sanitization procedures and shutting down our plants every 7-14 days for a deep clean, have become part of our standard operating procedures, we have underpinned this with awareness and education initiatives that are reinforced daily through posters, videos and continued training.

Complacency is our biggest risk. Once employees return to their homes, these sanitation and safety habits need to continue. Premier has provided employees with masks, sanitisers and educational materials to use at home.

As we move forward, we believe the key enabler to both employee and community wellness is education and working in collaboration with our employees and their communities. This is #ThePremierWay

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we recognise the role of women in building diversity and inclusivity. We asked some of our rising stars what they thought women brought to the table in the business environment and found some inspiring views.

“Embrace who you are. Being a woman, you have your own talents and perspective. You don’t have to compete with men by acting or dressing like them. As a woman, we bring our own talents, and I believe we have the amazing ability to pull people together through communication and creating a shared vision”, Elizabeth.

“Diverse teams outperform homogeneous teams, whether all-male or all-female teams. We need individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and styles of leadership expressing different opinions. It is important to bring different perspectives and opinions to the table and avoid stereotyped behaviours”, Sibongile.

“A more diverse workforce will naturally lead to a more inclusive culture, and when a company’s culture feels fair and inclusive, women and underrepresented groups or individuals are happier and more likely to thrive”, Jane.

Premier FMCG is committed to upskilling our employees by expanding their skills across multiple disciplines to improve career progression and provide a platform for promotion. With 30 learnerships to develop multi-skill disciplines across the bakery division completed in March 2020, Premier FMCG expands its programme with an additional 75 learnerships in 2021.

Multi-skilling benefits both employees and the employer and extends beyond the classroom into the workplace with relief shifts, on-the-job coaching and a collaborative working environment. In this way, Premier FMCG delivers on its agenda to empower employees in our operations to build a pipeline of future leaders.

As we enter a new decade, it’s worthwhile reflecting on the contribution our employees have made to our business. Together, we celebrate over 500 years of combined service with long service awards given to Premier employees with 10 years or more. A big congratulations to everyone. We at Premier thank you for your loyalty to the company. We will continue to value the contribution you make.

A special mention goes to Lava Pather, with 45 years of service, who said in his speech that his father also gave 48 years of his working life to Premier. His father retired in 1973, and Lava started a year later to continue the legacy, thereby collectively working an astonishing 93 years of service to Premier … WOW!

Top performers come together every year to receive tribute for going above and beyond. Attended by senior executives, the Star Awards is an annual event, where leaders thank the teams and individuals who have impacted Premier in a positive way.

The first round of awards went to five employees who showed continuing commitment through 40 and 45 years long service. After celebrating the many years of service and the deep experience these individuals have brought to Premier, the evening recognised the rising and enduring stars within multiple functions that included Customer Service, Sales, Marketing, HR, Supply Chain, Finance and IT. The best performers in the Grocery, Milling and Bakery businesses were also recognised by their peers.

Teamwork is a core part of #ThePremierWay. In the team awards, high performing teams were recognised for health and safety, Invocoms, the best depot, the best innovation project and the most effective continuous improvement project.

The evening closed with the highly contested Grocery, Mill and Bakery of the Year Awards with HPC UK, Kroonstad Maize Mill and Pinetown Bakery snagging these coveted spots!

With South Africa earning the number one ranking for the unhealthiest country in the world (Business Insider US)1, there is a need to increase focus on a healthy lifestyle while balancing the realities of a time starved nation.

In South Africa, over 28% of adults are obese which is the highest obesity rate in sub-Saharan Africa (Business Insider US)1. As this fast becomes a national crisis, “Making eating whole foods a way of life” has been selected as the theme for National Nutrition and Obesity Week.

Blue Ribbon Squares, with its convenient lunch offer, recognised the growing need for healthier food choices for the whole family. Launching Multiseed and Oats and Wholewheat variants, the new Blue Ribbon health Squares variants combine portion control, low GI and high fibre so that families have access to healthier, convenient choices.

As we enter National Nutrition and Obesity Week, let’s all work together and address this growing issue by making little choices every day that will build a healthier future for all.


As we celebrate Heritage Day, it is a time to reflect on our culture, traditions and diversity that make us uniquely South African. Within the melting pot that is South Africa, Iwisa would like to encourage all South Africans to embrace our diversity while building a positive future for all.

Bringing the past and the present together, Iwisa has launched an innovative #MogoduMonday sampling campaign into the restaurant market, so that time pressured South African’s can taste Iwisa’s quick cook samp in select local restaurants. Celebrating who we are over a warm plate of food, bringing people together and building community relationships is part of what makes Iwisa a brand of today and the future. Happy Heritage Day!

Premier employees walked for a good cause when they joined the Waterfall Freedom Fun Run to support the “Keep Girls in School” campaign. 487 participants donated two packs of sanitary towels as an entry fee, which were matched by Lil-lets, resulting in 2161 packs of sanitary towels being collected. This donation will cover the needs of 150 Grades 8 - 12 girls for a year at Jiyani secondary school in Tembisa.

Lil-lets and Dis-Chem will continue to support the “Keep Girls in School” initiative as this provides some of the most basic necessities to young women to attend school so they can graduate and reach their full potential

At Premier, how our employees experience the culture and “The Premier Way” are important to us.

Checking in each year to measure how we are performing allows us to improve what we do, starting with each team, business unit and rolling up to our leaders.

This year, 96% of Premier employees completed our People Survey with positive year on year progress across all elements, particularly at an employee level. The most positive movements were around health, safety, wellness and continuous improvement, and some elements relating to Employer of Choice. Areas that we continue to work on are Leadership Culture, Performance Management and supporting initiatives includes Coaching for Performance, Supervisory Development and other critical skills development programmes.

Whilst we are encouraged to see that there are signs of our climate and culture being experienced more consistently throughout the organization - building a culture of innovation, growth and high performance is not a one-day game. For the rest of 2019 and onwards, will continue to focus on our people who will help us build our products and brands.

Employees take part in Premier’s Wellness Day with Discovery Vitality and The Pink Drive providing mammogram testing, pap smears, testicular screenings and general health checks. A guest speaker from The Pink Drive shared information about cancer awareness, educating our employees on early detection and how to support family and friends. “At Premier, we care about our employee’s overall health and wellness which is one of the reasons why we promote various wellness initiatives across the business”, says Siobhan O'Sullivan, the Group Strategy & Marketing Executive of Premier.
COVID-19 Visit the COVID-19 Corona Virus South African Resources Portal here: