Allan and Margaret Hirsch started their family run appliance business in a tiny showroom in Umhlanga Rocks Drive, Durban in 1979. Today Hirsch’s has grown into a chain of mega appliance and home furnishing stores in KwaZulu-Natal, the Cape and Gauteng. Their strength, they believe, is in their well trained staff, and customer service
A Solid Reputation
Allan and Margaret Hirsch started their family run appliance business in a tiny showroom in Umhlanga Rocks Drive, Durban in 1979. Today Hirsch’s has grown into a chain of mega appliance and home furnishing stores in KwaZulu-Natal, the Cape and Gauteng. Their strength, they believe, is in their well trained staff, and customer service.
The Hirsch’s started off small, building a strong base of customers over the years, first with repairs and second-hand repaired appliances and then into a fully fledged appliance retailer. Hirsch’s is very much a family run business with all four members of the Hirsch family involved in day to day operations.
Over the years the company has continued to build a solid reputation by being associated with big brands, giving good service and carrying a wide range of products for the home. In KZN in 2000, they started their Home Store concept, where almost everything for the home can be purchased under one roof. This proved to be a great success and two years later, in 2002, they took the concept to Gauteng. In April 2012 they opened their first branch in Cape Town (Milnerton). They also have a strong online presence with customers from around South Africa shopping from Hirsch’s online site.
Over the past 40 years their entrepreneurial spirit has also helped drive the growth of the business. In 1983 Allan bought a couple of microwaves believing that this was one of the new must have products. He was disappointed to still have microwaves in stock at the end of the month. The Hirsch’s decided to have an evening cooking demonstration and sold 11 microwaves on the first evening. However, once people bought the microwave they didn’t know how to use them, so Margaret started a microwave cookery school.
Margaret said, “I always say to people if you knew that you were going to succeed, would you try it?” and they always say “Yes”. Don’t let anything hold you back from trying new things in your life. Margaret is integrally involved with all aspects of Hirsch’s operations and visits each store regularly. Every week the Hirsch’s spend two nights in KwaZulu-Natal, two in Gauteng, and two in Cape Town. Margaret’s hands-on approach is apparent in that she does not have an office in any of the branches. She sits at a desk on the shop floor and helps deal with everything from staff recruitment to customer complaints and queries on a daily basis.
As a family, the Hirsch’s form a formidable force supported by their management team who have a strong commitment to the same goals. They are backed by 850 permanent employees who are as dedicated to the company as the Hirsch’s and their management team are. The Hirsch family does not take anything for granted and are regularly involved in various charities and sponsorships. Their giving nature ensures that they constantly support the less fortunate and they are always willing to help those in need. Allan, for instance, is a patron of the Phoenix Child Welfare society and Richard is a patron of the Claire-Ellis School. Margaret is involved with the School for the Blind in Gauteng.
Since 2012, she has been instrumental in helping to get the Girls with Dignity project off the ground and has personally purchased thousands of panty packs to hand out to girls in underprivileged areas so they can attend school full time, where she gives inspirational talks to all the students. Young women in Africa have been reported as being absent from school for a period of at least four days per month, this number can total up to approximately 24 weeks out of 144 weeks in a four year period of high school. Being passionate about Women’s empowerment, Margaret has also started business women’s networking events around the country.
Technology and Marketing
Commenting on Hirsch's marketing strategy, and how online advertising has become an important feature, Allan says "Technology has become almost unrecognisable over the years. We have reached this amazing communicative age where things happen instantly. A lot more people are shopping online and having goods delivered to them the next day."
We have public relations people in all our stores and they arrange functions for our customers, ranging from cooking demonstrations, to business networking events that include talks on everything from helping people to grow their businesses to the latest technology products on the market. We also train domestic workers in the use and maintenance of a variety of appliances and find many ways of giving back to the communities in which we operate.
Sustainability and Environment
Allan is passionate about the environment and energy efficiency. "Many years ago, I realised how important energy efficiency was in South Africa. It made me very aware of how appliances can be used effectively and how certain appliances use less water and less electricity and are quieter than others. It is something we have been driving and we try to encourage the consumer to buy energy efficient products. I believe as an appliance retail store we really can influence the decision and at the same time make a difference. We believe it starts at the socket. If things that are not being used are unplugged it makes a difference," he says.
Full Name of Company: Hirsch’s
Industry Sector: Trade - Retail
Services / Products: Merchandise
Date Established: 1979
No of Employees: 850
Auditors / Accountants: Tax Advantage - Alta Lightfoot.
Bankers :Standard Bank.
B-BBEE Status: Verified
CEO: Allan Hirsch
Chief Operations Executive: Margaret Hirsch
Managing Director: Richard Hirsch
Marketing Director: Paul Brown
Financial Manager: Paul Lockwood
Human Resources: Anel Terblanche
Brand Manager: Luci Hirsch
Physical Address: 1211 Umgeni Road, Durban
Tel: +27 (0)31 582 4401 Fax: +27 (0)86 518 9954