Willem Klopper Snr. (now deceased) started Kloppers in 1967 in Bloemfontein. Differing from other retailers who sold goods at high profit margins, often on credit, Kloppers was special from the start by concentrating on high turnover and low profit margins with the focus on cash sales and personal service.
The prediction of prophets of doom that this approach would not succeed was proven wrong quickly. The Kloppers motto was: “Cash is King”. Willem firmly believed that the client who pays cash should pay less than one buying on credit.
The arrival of TV in 1976 gave Kloppers a big push forward. People became very price conscious and were always on the lookout for the best prices as well as the best service. And that is what Kloppers offered.
When Greatermans branches closed down countrywide in 1981, Kloppers Snr bought the local branch and moved Kloppers to the Greatermans premises of 10,000 sq. metres. The name Kloppers was retained and the Greatermans tradeware range was extended significantly.
During 1983 Klopper snr. received a very attractive offer for the “new” Kloppers, decided to sell it with the building to Christo Wiese’s Pepkor and retired at 57. Some of the Kloppers directors went to work for Pepkor but Willem Jnr. and his brothers, Steva and Leon – who in the meantime had joined Kloppers – decided to break away. In 1984 they started a brand new shop, Juniors, on the premises of the old Kloppers.
Some of the new Kloppers directors threatened to close down Juniors within six months and this, for the brothers became like a red flag to a bull. Two years later, in 1986, it was Kloppers who had to capitulate to Juniors. Kloppers was offered them virtually on a silver platter and was merged with Juniors.
In that same year Filip Naude (CA) – presently also a shareholder and – seventh brother – in the team, joined Kloppers as accountant. In 1987 one of the twin brothers, Wouter, followed.
Bigger and Bigger
During the Nineties, Kloppers expanded vigorously. In 1991 the old OK building was acquired, all the Juniors branches were closed down and business was conducted in the Kloppers name again. The other twin brother, Anton, joined the team in that year.
Four years later, in 1995, the large and well-established paint and hardware store, BP Jones, was taken over and merged with Kloppers. The joining of the youngest brother, Dirk, completed the team.
Later, Kloppers expanded from the city centre, opening a branch at College Square near Grey College. And in October 2002 the modern flagship shop of 7500 sq. metres was opened at Bloemfontein’s Waterfront. This megastore is now the only Kloppers in Bloemfontein.
Kloppers at the Waterfront boasts almost three times the number of departments that this business had in 1984. These include sports, outdoor living and camping equipment, weapons and ammunition, school uniforms, electrical appliances, TV, photography, sound, travel accessories, toys, hardware, software, beds and bicycles.
The hardware department, one of the best in the country, is the biggest department “but every department plays its own role” but the principles remain the same.
To protect and consolidate the buying power of independent resellers like Kloppers countrywide and to prevent bigger competitors from swamping them, the brothers were instrumental in creating the purchase organization, Expert Iser.
The golden guideline of Willem Klopper Snr. and the cornerstone upon which Kloppers was built, i.e. high turnover, low profit margins as well as quality products and service, today still remains firmly in place and distinguishes Kloppers from its competitors.
Like their father, the six brothers eat, live and sleep Kloppers. “It is not a business, it is your life,” stresses Willem Jnr.
The challenge ahead for the brothers is to keep their branches in Knysna, George and Bloemfontein growing.
Kloppers celebrated its 45th birthday in 2013 and are there to serve their wonderful customers for many more to come!
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