The story of Overland Food Group is one of perseverance and determination; a story of working within your means, and taking the next step in a long journey.

The group had humble beginnings, and owes its success to hard work and willingness to be of service to clients.

Overland Cash n Carry was started in March of 1990 by its hands-on CEO, José Gonsalves de Achadinha, at the Klerksdorp Fresh Produce Market. José explains, “The business operated as packaging business selling packaging materials to the hawkers and traders who bought their fresh fruit & veggies on the market”. Overland soon supplied food vendors with polystyrene cups, trays, grease proof bags and other packaging. Demand soon increased to include tobacco, groceries and other essentials into the mix.

José would carry on servicing requests, and by 1991, Overland stocked essential food lines, and grew the range from month to month.

As any South African of the right age will tell you, the early nineties were a difficult time as the country was transition from its Apartheid history to an open, democratic society. Through this time, José ’s willingness to offer assistance to those that approached him prevailed, “In 1992 when there were riots in the townships with the setting alight and burning of bread trucks, SAB trucks and Coca Cola trucks. I was approached by Suncrush Limited, then the bottlers of Coca Cola in Klerksdorp to become their distributor of Coca Cola products as they could not afford to lose anymore trucks”.

Suddenly José was in a prime location for distribution to the township market.

When things began to settle down in South Africa after the 1994 elections, José was fielding request for a delivery service into the North West Province, and so he hired two sales reps to canvass for customers. The demand was unprecedented, and Overland started to be a force as it had now expanded to triple its size and turnover. The time had come for a credit facility to further aid the running of the business.

“My family did not have the finances to assist me and I had no choice but to approach the banks”, says José , “Trust Bank, now part of ABSA, where I had my business account then up until now assisted me with an overdraft which helped immensely”.

José’s willingness to service his clients’ needs brought about another problem – space. In 1995 Overland expanded from its original operation from a floor space of 800m², to 2000m².

The following year, José applied for, and was granted, a liquor licence ; this in turn required that another 600m² of floor space need to be added, “I then decided to put liquor and Coca Cola together in order to use the Coca Cola space for more grocery and non-foods”. Overland’s need for space didn’t stop there, as by the year 2000, they had again run out of space, and couldn’t cope with the deliveries that needed to be made.

Another milestone came in 2000, Overland joined a buying group called Independent Cash n Carry, or ICC.

“It was also the year the rumours had it going that at midnight of 31 December 2000 all computers and systems would come to a shutdown, as such I was then hesitant to spend money on extending the building”, explains José .

Overland, as the rest of the world, were to find out the Y2K bug was a complete non-event. “Nothing happened to our computer networks and the business continued where I then extended the building by another 1200m² and this time around, a health and beauty section was added on as well as a full on butchery for fresh and frozen”.

In 2005, Suncrush limited sold to Amalgamated Beverage Industries (ABI), and subsequently the Klerksdorp plant was shut down. Where the average man would see adversity, José saw opportunity, “I then entered into negotiations to purchase the property and the sale was concluded at end of 2005. Early in 2006, I started up the Overland Distribution Centre where I moved our distribution service to our customers to the DC”.

Overland now operated out of a warehouse that is 7500m², and the admin staff were moved to the admin block of the new DC, “Overland Cash ‘n Carry was servicing the hawkers, spaza shops, take away, fast foods and collect customers. Overland DC was servicing our delivery customers with a team of 3 telesales and 2 reps.”

Disaster was lurking, and in November 2007 Overland Cash n Carry burned to the ground. It was later determined that an electrical fault caused by rain led to the fire. A long battle with insurers loomed, before Overland Cash n Carry finally re-opened in May of 2009, albeit with a bitter pill to swallow. Overland would now operate out of 2700m², instead of the 5000m² previously held. However, Overland Cash n Carry still operates to this day from this space, and it includes sections for retail, wholesale, fruit & veggies departments and full butchery.

The year 2008 brought a very special occasion to José, “In 2008, both my sons, José Junior and Chris, joined me in the business to make it a family business.”

Always on the lookout for growth and new opportunities, José decided to start franchising supermarkets – either with new stores, or by converting existing stores. “The first ones opened in Parys (OFS) and in Potchefstroom (North West)”.

As of April 2020, there are now 30 franchise supermarkets in the group. They are broken down as follows:

1. Overland Express – 200m² ± basic foods
2. Overland Supermarket – 500m² ± food, non-food and fruit & veg department
3. Overland Hyper – 800m² ± food, non-food, butchery, bakery, fast foods and fruit & veg departments
4. Overland Mini Cash ‘n Carry – Wholesale and retail food and non-foods.

José explains, “The assistance we provide is upgrading and painting the store, placing new signage outside, merchandising, pricing, sell-by dates, promotions, monthly meetings, monthly advertising pamphlets, stock deliveries, weekly credit terms, category management, and direct perishable supplies.”

José notes that the next milestone in the business was resigning from ICC, and joining the Unitrade Group – UMS (United Merchant Services). “UMS has assisted immensely in changing the business around to make it much more consumer friendly and profitable. UMS and Overland Teams work closely together in order to ensure that our customers get value for money and service under business integrity. UMS and Overland both share the same values, morals, vision and mission.”

Currently Overland operates 23 trucks that range from 1 tonners to 28 tonners, moving 2000 tons of merchandise every month. The logistics team monitors all trucks 24/7.

The Overland Group certainly started as very small operation, but a simple philosophy of servicing clients’ needs well has seen the group grow their turnover to R1 billion annually.

Overland is passionately conscious of the shortfalls in society, and as such donates food weekly to 14 organisations, these include crèches, foster homes, children’s homes, old-age homes, and food stations at churches.

The journey has taken 30 years, and it is by no means over, “With the leadership of the De Achadinha family and the dedication of all staff members, and the guidance and strength from the Almighty, Overland Food Group is a proud South African Portuguese food, non-food, perishables and general merchandise supplier to our customer base of 30 000 per month 360 000and per year.”