The founders of shoe retailer Tekkie Town will be launching a new retail chain supplier of branded sports apparel and footwear, they announced on Monday.
Mr. Tekkie, as it will be known, will launch in major cities and towns in SA from November 2018, and will be headquartered in George.
Former CEO of Tekkie Town and the new head of Mr. Tekkie, Bernard Mostert, told Fin24 on Monday that 15 stores are expected to be launched, with an initial roll-out in the Western Cape and Northern Cape provinces.
As Mostert and colleagues move forward with plans to launch their new business, they are still involved in a court challenge to the 2016 transaction when Steinhoff International Holdings acquired Tekkie Town.
This challenge was launched on the basis that Steinhoff acknowledged accounting irregularities in its financial reports.
Steinhoff’s CEO Markus Jooste abruptly resigned in December 2017 and the firm’s shares have lost over 95% of their value.
There are currently four legal cases at the Cape Town High Court between Pepkor and the Tekkie Town founders, and six more are likely to follow, according to a statement from Mr. Tekkie on Monday morning.
Tekkie Town, founded by Braam van Huyssteen in 1989, has grown to 389 stores. It is now part of Steinhoff’s subsidiary Pepkor, formerly known as Steinhoff Africa Retail.
If the application is favourable and Tekkie Town’s ownership is returned to the founders, it will be managed alongside Mr. Tekkie from George, the statement from Mr. Tekkie read.
Pepkor is in the process of being evicted from the building owned by Van Huyssteen, according to the statement.
Mostert said the idea to launch Mr. Tekkie was not as a result of the court case. Rather, it stemmed from when he and several other executives resigned from Pepkor earlier in the year.
He said they were then approached by several businesses seeking “management help” or investment.
“This process led us to see a niche in the market that we believe we can pursue, and that will result in a brand that gives our customers a unique offering and experience,” he said.
Mostert said even though there were concerns regarding the country’s economic prospects, there was still a business case to launch the retailer.
“As a team we have managed through both downswings and upswings, and we have consistently delivered.
“We believe this new chapter will be no different,” he said.
Mr. Tekkie will bring “strong emerging trends” in the international discount retail to the South African market, Mostert said. The retailer will not compete directly with the likes of Sportsmans Warehouse and MRP Sport, Mostert explained.
“Mr. Tekkie will not compete head-on with either Sportsmans and MRP Sport – both businesses that, in their own way, serve their customers well. Mr. Tekkie aims to deliver a great variety of athleisure apparel and footwear to all members of a family.”
Of Mr. Tekkie’s business prospects, Van Huyssteen said: “Mr. Tekkie represents a great opportunity for us. Whilst others may be negative about South Africa and its prospects, we understand the underlying resilience and optimism that drive South Africans from all walks of life.
“It is a privilege for me to make a significant investment in a new and exciting South African story.”
When asked if any copyright issues were anticipated with the name Mr. Tekkie, Mostert said the trademark and license for Mr. Tekkie was registered long before Tekkie Town started.
“We acquired it from the previous owner, who was happy to let us buy it, and in part realise the vision he had for it when he first registered it.”
Among former Tekkie Town executives joining Van Huyssteen and Mostert are Dawie van Niekerk, formerly chief executive officer and chief operating officer of Pepkor’s speciality division; Gert Claassens,the manager of the first Tekkie Town store; Michael Brown, formerly the general manager and head of buying at Tekkie Town; and Willem Wait, formerly the chief information officer of Tekkie Town.Robin Seabrook, formerly general manger of human resources and finance at Tekkie Town, will be the chief financial officer.