Edcon turns Watchdog to shame levy-dodging firms if they do not own up

Edgars Active opened recently in Gauteng’s new Mall of Africa.  Picture: Supplied.
Edgars Active opened recently in Gauteng’s new Mall of Africa. Picture: Supplied.

Buying local, embracing the digital era and consolidating the number of stores is how the Edcon Group is making strides in recouping its massive losses.

Speaking at the 20th annual Edcon Group South African Council of Shopping Centres (SACSC) congress in Johannesburg this week, Edcon chief executive Bernie Brookes said the retail group was “jumping a chasm in one leap”.

Edcon is the parent company for a number of retail stores, including Edgars, Jet Stores, Boardmans and CNA.

Brookes said the trends and disruptions in the retail sector were not only applicable to South Africa.

“Retail stores are the same across the globe,” he said.

Quashing concerns that the retail group is in serious financial trouble, Brookes – who took over the running of the group in October– said growth in the sector had stagnated because of online buying and other issues.

“The digital world is not that big in South Africa,” he said.

“Our transactional [“click and buy”] websites such as [Edgars]Red Square are doing well, but this takes growth off [traditional] retail.”

Brookes said Edcon was developing transactional websites for its flagship stores – Edgars and Jet – which would be launched by December.

He said there would be more consolidation of stores, such as the Edgars in Govan Mbeki Avenue which closed recently.

He attributed this to rationalizing and moving from “strips t o re s ” to shopping centres.

“These centres have dominating forces which offer much more to the consumer.”

Focusing more on local and shifting away from importing goods, Brookes said the Edcon Group was looking at the South African market as the booming Chinese market had become less lucrative as production costs rose.

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