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Edcon Botswana expected to catch SA financial flu

Edcon, Southern Africa’s biggest non-food retailing group which sells textiles and footwear and owns Jet Stores, Jetmart, CNA, Edgars and Ackerman is suffering from something akin to a metaphorical financial influenza-it is literally begging lenders, landlords and creditors to go easy on it as it currently debt trapped.

Information reaching BusinessPost is that the metaphorical flu may infect the Botswana stores as the South African economy has an inextricable link to that this country, therefore if South Africa catches flu Botswana sneezes. Last year data revealed that South African economy entered recession in the second quarter of 2018 for the first time since the global recession of 2009 and this could be one of the major factors of Edcon’s financial woes.

Pundits and observers on the other hand believe Edcon business of selling goods on credit appears not sustainable as people tend not to pay in the midst of economic recession which has rendered many to be unable to afford the cost of living. Edcon has 30 stores in Botswana employing approximately 300 people and these jobs and shops are expected to shrink according to experts. Edcon has been in business for nearly 90 years and operate in stores across South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Ghana, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Four principal brands: Edgars, Jet, CNA and thank U. According to Edcon latest financial results, the group has 187 stores outside of South Africa. The financial results states that, sales from stores outside South Africa contributed 12.2 percent (9.1 percent excluding Zimbabwe) of retail sales for fiscal 2018, down from 11.9 percent (9.4 percent excluding Zimbabwe) during the prior period. Following media reports that Edcon is failing to pay rent on many South African malls, this week the group has devised a plan to fight its impending financial woes.

Edcon financial woes is expected to lead into loss of 140 000 jobs at South Africa. Last year the group closed many stores in Botswana avoiding what was termed retail cannibalization-one of the contributors to the company’s financial blow. Retail cannibalisation occurs when a company’s new stores steal customers from existing stores in a development that has got the eventual reduction of overall sales even though sales in the new stores generally do well.

South Africa’s biggest non-food retailer recent financial woes are due to weak consumer spending and economic growth in South Africa. Edcon was taken over by banks and bondholders in 2016 to avoid nose-diving. Edcon shops of Jet sells quality value fashion, home and beauty merchandise targeted at lower to middle-income customers- these are the hardest hit by South African recession.

 Edgars on the other hand is expected to salvage a lot of business because it targets middle to upper-income customers who control the economy, but this type of consumers takes a lower share of the South African population. Now Edcon plans on “recapitalisation programme”to reduce their financial woes. Edcon Spokesperson Michael Rubenstein would not comment on how the recent developments are exactly going to affect Edcon business in Botswana.

This week Rubenstein passed a recent statement from Edcon CEO Grant Pattison to BusinessPost and the spokesperson said the announcement applies to all Edcon businesses, even those in Botswana. This suggests that the financial woes at South Africa also affects Edcon local businesses. "The restructuring and recapitalisation of Edcon has passed its next hurdle with the Edcon Board having recently approved the structure of the proposed recapitalisation plan, and in response lenders have extended waivers to allow time for implementation. 

This will allow sufficient time for the number of necessary due diligence and governance processes to be completed. At this stage, we can’t release any additional detail as we remain subject to Confidentiality Agreements. The Board fully appreciates the support that is being received from all Group stakeholders and the commitment that has been shown for the viability of the business.  We will make further announcements in due course,” said Pattison’s recent statement.

Pattison’s recent statement comes after last year December Edcon press statement where the company confirmed that it is in discussions with numerous stakeholders with regard to the Group’s continued recapitalisation programme. Pattison commented, “Edcon’s balance sheet recovery programme has been underway for some time as we continue to focus on completing a recapitalisation of Edcon.

Part of the process is the continuing discussions with various stakeholders: which include lenders, landlords, potential new investors, and others, as we explore and discuss various options.” Edcon want malls to reduce rent and lenders to go easy on it. South Africa’s Sunday Times reported that on 7 December Edcon had sent out a letter to its 31 biggest landlords asking for a two-year 41 percent "rent holiday" in exchange for a five percent stake in the business in a bid to stave off liquidation and the loss of up to 140 000 jobs.

A report by the Sunday Times newspaper stated that Edcon had sent out a letter to its 31 biggest landlords asking for a two-year 41 percent "rent holiday" in exchange for a five percent stake in the business in a bid to stave off liquidation and the loss of up to 140 000 jobs
Edcon is facing collapse or possible liquidation according to South African experts. According to Sunday Times who had seen a letter from Edcon to landlords, the group is desperate to an extend that it is planning to offera 5 percent stake in the business in exchange for a two-year agreement on rentals.

According to the South African Sunday publication, Edcon is doing all these to secure P1.6 billion in emergency funding from banks and the Public Investment Corp. According to latest financials, Edcon’s total net third party debt as at 30 June 2018 was P6 billion. According to Edcon, another element of the programme to ensure successful recapitalisation of the balance sheet has been to lower store costs, which were well-controlled for the three-month period ended 30 June 2018 increasing by only 0.6 percent to P1.4 billion. Financial results for the thirteen weeks ended 30 June 2018 the Edcon Group reported retail sales of P4 billion for the quarter, at a gross profit margin of 38.9 percent.

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Business

Payless to partake in BSE’s Flagship Tshipidi program

28th June 2022
PAYLESS

Newly established wholly indigenous citizen owned retail chain Payless Retail (PTY) Ltd is set to partake in the first session of Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE)’s Tshipidi Mentorship Program (TMP) on Monday June 29th.

The TMP aims to train and capacitate SMEs so they can operate as corporates and eventually list on the local bourse. According to local bourse, BSE, the program aims to provide practical training to potential issuers through a comprehensive and interactive program that covers the key themes necessary to position a company to list on the BSE.

Payless Retail is a newly established supermarket chain whose mission is to become a convenient one-stop shopping destination as it is one of the Botswana oldest retailing brands.  It started off as Corner Supermarket in January 1976, and to date boasts of nine stores in, among others, Gaborone, Mochudi, Molepolole and Tlokweng. Payless was recently acquired by Ellis Retail Group, which is led by businessman Elliot Moshoke.

The takeover catapulted Ellis Retail to the envious position of being the first wholly indigenous owned major retail chain. “We jumped at this opportunity because it gave us a chance to prove to Batswana that the retail business is open and lucrative.”

The objective is to create a proudly Botswana retail chain that fully supports our national Vision, economic development and citizen economic empowerment ambitions,” Moshoke told BusinessPost.

He further emphasized that Batswana are capable and able to run large scale businesses hence they need to accept invite foreign investors who will come in to support us not take the business.
“Our win as Payless in the Fast Moving Consumer goods (FMCG) industry is a win for Batswana. We need their support in this difficult and challenging journey.

As you are aware, Payless is the only retail chain in the hands of Batswana ba Sekei. We need to take advantage of this to generate employment and create small businesses in retail and Agri businesses,” he explained.

The retailer has also partnered with Botswana Investment & Trade Center (BITC) on their #PushaBW campaign with a view to initiating earnest engagement with local producers to iron out bottlenecks and ensure seamless trading.

“Local producers have to be part of the phenomenal growth of the Payless brand. This will in turn facilitate employment creation and economic growth. We did this because we have the utmost respect for local manufacturers and producers,” he mentioned.

Payless is currently restocking all of its stores; a development that Moshoke says is testament to the retailer’s commitment to growing the brand and ensuring continuity of business. He further revealed that renowned retail suppliers like PST and CA Sales have reignited their trust in Payless, opening their doors for Payless as they have faith in the retailer’s new owners.

The takeover has reportedly saved more than 200 jobs and gave a new lease of life to the previously fledging Payless brand. According to a press release from the management team, the Payless work forces are also extremely excited about what the future holds. The TMP is a comprehensive and interactive program that covers the key themes necessary to position a company to list on the BSE.

The program is administered by experts within the listing ecosystem and seeks to bring the potential issuers closer to the listings advisers, investors and leaders of already listed companies.  “As a strategic initiative, the BSE decided to set up this mentorship program in a bid to assist SMEs to strategize, corporatize and acclimatize in order to list to access equity finance and expand operations,” said the BSE.

The TMP will avail to SMEs practical insights, knowledge and feedback from institutional investors, increased awareness of the BSE listing requirements as well as an intimate network of advisors and CEOs of listed companies. After training, Payless will graduate with improve governance structures and better knowledge of articulating its business strategy. The retailer will also gain increased visibility through BSE marketing platforms.

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Business

BITC assisted companies rake in P2.96 billion in export earnings

21st June 2022
BITC-CEO-Keletsositse-Olebile

Despite Covid-19 interrupting trade worldwide, exporting companies in Botswana which benefited from the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) services realised P2.96 billion in export earnings during the period from April 2020 to March 2021.

In the preceding financial year, the sale of locally manufactured products in foreign markets had registered export revenue of P2, 427 billion against a target of P3, 211 billion BITC, which celebrates 10 years since establishment, continues to carry out several initiatives targeted towards expanding the Botswana export base in line with Botswana’s desire to be an export led economy, underpinned by a robust export promotion programme in line with the National Export Strategy.

The main products exported were swamp cruiser boats, pvc tanks and pvc pipes, ignition wiring sets, semi-precious stones, veterinary medicines, hair braids, coal, textiles (towels and t-shirts) and automobile batteries. These goods were destined mainly for South Africa, Zimbabwe, Austria, Germany, and Namibia.

With Covid-19 still a problem, BITC continues to roll out targeted virtual trade promotion missions across the SADC region with a view to seeking long-lasting market opportunities for locally manufactured products.

Recently, the Centre facilitated participation for Botswana companies at the Eastern Cape Development Council (ECDC) Virtual Export Symposium, the Botswana-Zimbabwe Virtual Trade Mission, the Botswana-Zambia Virtual Trade Mission, Botswana-South Africa Virtual Buyer/Seller Mission as well as the Botswana-Namibia Virtual Trade Mission.

BITC has introduced an e-Exporting programme aimed at assisting Botswana exporters to conduct business on several recommended e-commerce platforms. Due to the advent of COVID-19, BITC is currently promoting e-trade among companies through the establishment of e-commerce platforms and is assisting local companies to embrace digitisation by adopting e-commerce platforms to reach export markets as well as assisting local e-commerce platform developers to scale up their online marketplaces.

During the 2019/2020 financial year, BITC embarked on several initiatives targeted at growing exports in the country; facilitation of participation of local companies in international trade platforms in order to enhance export sales of local products and services into external markets.

BITC also helped in capacity development of local companies to compete in global markets and the nurturing of export awareness and culture among local manufacturers in order to enhance their skills and knowledge of export processes; and in development and implementation of trade facilitation tools that look to improve the overall ease of doing business in Botswana.

As part of building export capacity in 2019/20, six (6) companies were selected to initiate a process to be Organic and Fair Trade Certified. These companies are; Blue Pride (Pty) Ltd, Motlopi Beverages, Moringa Technology Industries (Pty) Ltd, Sleek Foods, Maungo Craft and Divine Morula.

In 2019 seven companies which were enrolled in the Botswana Exporter Development Programme were capacitated with attaining BOBS ISO 9001: 2015 certification. Three (3) companies successfully attained BOBS ISO 9001:2015 certification. These were Lithoflex (Pty) Ltd, General Packaging Industries and Power Engineering.

BITC’s annual flagship exhibition, Global Expo Botswana (GEB) to create opportunities for trade and strategic synergies between local and international companies. The Global Expo Botswana) is a premier business to business exposition that attracts FDI, expansion of domestic investment, promotion of exports of locally produced goods and services and promotion of trade between Botswana and other countries.

Another tool used for export development by BITC is the Botswana Trade Portal, which has experienced some growth in terms of user acceptance and utilisation globally. The portal provides among others a catalogue of information on international, regional and bilateral trade agreements to which Botswana is a party, including the applicable Rules, Regulations and Requirements and the Opportunities for Botswana Businesses on a product by product basis.

The portal also provides information on; measures, legal documents, and forms and procedures needed by Botswana companies that intend on doing business abroad. BITC continues to assist both potential and existing local manufacturing and service entities to realise their export ambitions. This assistance is pursued through the ambit of the Botswana Exporter Development Programme (BEDP) and the Trade Promotion Programme.

BEDP was revised in 2020 in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with a vision to developing a diversified export-based economy. The programme focuses mostly on capacitating companies to reach export readiness status.

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Business

Inflation up 2.3 percent in May

21st June 2022
Inflation

Prices for goods and services in this country continue to increase, with the latest figures from Statistics Botswana showing that in May 2022, inflation rate rose to 11.9 percent from 9.6 percent recorded in April 2022.

According to Statistics Botswana update released this week, the largest upward contributions to the annual inflation rate in May 2022 came from increase in the cost of transport (7.2 percent), housing, water, electricity, gas & other Fuels (1.4 percent), food & non-alcoholic beverages (1.1 percent) and miscellaneous goods & services (0.8 percent).

With regard to regional inflation rates between April and May 2022, the Rural Villages inflation rate went up by 2.5 percentage points, from 9.6 percent in April to 12.1 percent in May 2022, according to the government owned statistics entity.

In the monthly update the entity stated that the Urban Villages inflation rate stood at 11.8 percent in May 2022, a rise of 2.4 percentage points from the April rate of 9.4 percent, whereas the Cities & Towns inflation rate recorded an increase of 1.9 percentage points, from 9.9 percent in April to 11.8 percent in May.

Commenting on the national Consumer Price Index, the entity stated that it went up by 2.6 percent, from 120.1 in April to 123.2 in May 2022. Statisticians from the entity noted that the transport group index registered an increase of 7.3 percent, from 134.5 in April to 144.2 in May, mainly due to the rise in retail pump prices for petrol and diesel by P1.54 and P2.74 per litre respectively, which effected on the 13th of May 2022.

The food & non-alcoholic beverages group index rose by 2.6 percent, from 118.6 in April 2022 to 121.6 in May 2022 and this came as a result of increase in prices of oils & fats, vegetables, bread & cereal, mineral waters, soft drinks, fruits & vegetables juices, fish (Fresh, Chilled & Frozen) and meat (Fresh, Chilled & Frozen), according to the Statisticians.

The Statisticians said the furnishing, household equipment & routine maintenance group index rose by 1.0 percent, from 111.6 in April 2022 to 112.7 in May 2022 and this was attributed to a general increase in prices of household appliances, glassware, tableware & household utensils and goods & services for household maintenance.

The prices for clothing & footwear group index moved from 109.4 to 110.4, registering a rise of 0.9 percent during the period under review. Bank of Botswana has projected higher inflation in the short term, associated with the likelihood of further increases in domestic fuel prices in response to persistent high international oil prices and added that the possible increase in public service salaries could add also upward pressure to inflation in this country.

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