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Known as one of the country’s most prominent retail chains since the first store was opened by Max Sonnenberg in 1931, located on Plein Street in Cape Town. A Durban store followed three years later, followed shortly by locations in Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg.
Sonnenberg’s original idea was to develop a chain of stores based on the model of other Woolworths chains, such as those in Europe, North America, and Australia, despite having no official connection with these existing brands.
Trademark laws did not prevent him from using the same name for Woolworths South Africa, however.
Woolworths got its first big break shortly after World War II, when a friendship between Sonnenberg and Sir Simon Marks (son of the founder of Marks and Spencer) culminated in a relationship being established between the two companies.
This relationship was initially of a financial nature, but later became a more personal and technological partnership. During the period between 1981 and 2001, Woolworths was also merged with Truworths to form the Wooltru Group.