Brand Pretorius was born on 15 February 1948 in Steynsrus in the Free State. He matriculated at Kroonstad High School and obtained his M.Com degree in Business Economics at the University of the Free State in 1972.
His business career had its origin at Toyota South Africa in March 1973. Following a number of management positions in research, planning, sales and marketing, he was appointed managing director of Toyota SA Marketing in 1988. Under his guidance Toyota became the market leader in terms of both sales and customer satisfaction.
In March 1995 he joined South Africa’s largest motor retail group, McCarthy Motor Holdings, as chief executive. Effective October, 1999, he was promoted to the position of Chief Executive Officer of McCarthy Limited, the holding company of McCarthy Motor Holdings. It is widely acknowledged that Brand played the pivotal role in saving McCarthy from bankruptcy. Due to massive bad debt write-offs in its Prefcor division, the group was declared technically insolvent in February 2001 Under Brand’s leadership McCarthy was successfully recapitalized, restructured and restored to financial health. Thousands of jobs were saved. Today, the group employs 7 000 people, has an annual turnover in excess of R20bn and it sells approximately 75 000 new and used vehicles annually. Brand retired as CEO of McCarthy and as an executive director of the Bidvest Group on 1 March 2011.
Brand currently serves as a non-executive director on the boards of the Agrinet, Reunert, Italtile, Tata Africa Holdings, Tongaat Hulett and is the chairman of Metair Investments Limited. Brand is also a member of the advisory board of the international consultancy firm Alexander Proudfoot.
An honorary professorship in Business Management was conferred on him in May 1991 by the University of the Free State and in May 2001, by the University of Johannesburg, as well. He was appointed a Fellow at the Gordon Institute of Business Science in November 2007. An honorary doctorate in marketing was conferred on him in April 2013 by the Durban University of Technology, and in September 2013 an honorary professorship in Marketing was bestowed on him by the University of Pretoria..
Brand serves on the main board of the READ Educational Trust Board of Trustees and was the president of the South African Retail Motor Industry Organisation from 2001 until 2006. He served as President of the South African Institute of Marketing Management from 1993 till 1996 as well as on the State President’s International Marketing Council during the period 2004- 2009, the last two years as vice-chairman. Brand was appointed as an ambassador of the SA Valued Citizens Initiative in May 2008, in November 2009 as a Visiting Executive at the Albert Luthuli Centre for Responsible Leadership at the University of Pretoria and in January 2013 as a director of the business incubator InvoTech at the Durban University of Technology.
National awards attained by Mr. Pretorius include Junior Businessman of the Year (1985), Communicator of the Year (1994), Best Boss (1994), Automobile Man of the Year, the Manpower award of Excellence (1995) and the Presidential Award for Excellence in Business Communication by the SA Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (1997). In October 1998 the research company Integrity Profiles International identified him as one of the top 5 “high integrity” business leaders in South Africa. He received an Honorary Fellowship from the South African Institute of Marketing Management in November 1998. In a survey done during May 1999 by the influential magazine Professional Management Review, he was identified as the most admired leader in the Motor Industry by a representative panel consisting of chief executives, fleet managers and motoring journalists. This award was bestowed on him again in June 2000. In February 2000 the marketing magazine “The Future” identified him through reader research as one of South Africa’s three most prominent marketers of the past decade. The South African Institute of Marketing Management honored him with their “Marketing Person of the Year” award in November 2000. In May 2002 he received a certificate of excellence from the READ Educational Trust for his remarkable commitment to the cause of building a literate nation through the Rally to Read project, a national social investment project he initiated in 1998. The publishers of the South African Automotive Year Book bestowed a Lifetime Achievement Award on him in September 2003, for outstanding service to the motor industry. He became a member of the SA Automotive Industry’s “Hall of Fame” in March 2006, in recognition of his significant contribution to the industry. In June 2006 he was honored by the Leadership Forum at their annual CEO Summit for his contribution towards leadership thinking and in particular, leadership ethics. South African marketers identified him in September 2006 as a marketing thought leader, and as one of the top three business leaders who have contributed most to the success of their organizations, according to a national survey by Markinor and Brand Leadership. In the annual Trust Barometer opinion survey amongst company directors by the research company Ask Afrika, he was recognized in August 2009 as the most trusted leader in the South African motor industry. The Automotive Industry Development Council bestowed a Lifetime Achievement Award on him in April 2011.He was the recipient of the Ellen Kuzwayo Award from the Council of the University of Johannesburg for his contribution to the South African business sector as well as the society at large, in November 2013.
His first book, “In the driving seat – lessons in leadership” was published in February 2013. According to Nielsen Bookstats it was the top selling business biography in South Africa in calendar year 2013. The English version has already been reprinted five times, and the Afrikaans version twice.