Listen to this Article Now
Pepkor is quickly reopening stores after July’s violent turmoil in South Africa inflicted R1.3 billion rand in damage to approximately 550 stores, or 10% of its total. According to CEO Leon Lourens, the country’s largest clothing retailer would have resumed trading in as many as 380 stores by the end of September. He estimates that by mid-November, up to 460 businesses will be back in operation.
According to the CEO, progress has been “amazing” and has had no effect on the company’s usual annual store opening programme. Pep, the company’s largest chain, specializes in lower-cost clothes and operates a network of town centers across the country.
Many South African businesses were forced to close in July as some of the country’s worst riots since the end of white minority rule erupted, torching trucks and looting stores. Pepkor, which also owns the Ackermans, HiFi Corp, and Tekkie Town retail chains, has a presence in several of the malls that have been damaged. The cost of revamping the outlets with new lights, tiling, shelving, and clothing has been estimated to be between 1.2 billion and 1.3 billion rand, according to Lourens. According to him, Pepkor has adequate insurance coverage through Sasria, a state-owned agency that specialized in protest damage.
The almost 100 shops that won’t be open by November are those where “the property was burnt down or there’s structural damage,” Lourens said. “Those ones are uncertain and will open as soon as landlords fix up the properties,” he said. The loss in revenue has been mitigated by customers switching to other Pep or Ackermans stores, he said.