SA retailer Edcon gets $191m from public, landlords and lenders

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Edcon, the largest non-food retailer in South Africa which owns Edgars, Jet and CNA, has secured $191 million from lenders, landlords and the Public Investment Corp. Edcon, the largest non-food retailer in South Africa which owns Edgars, Jet and CNA, has secured $191 million from lenders, landlords and the Public Investment Corp.

Edcon, the largest non-food retailer in South Africa which owns Edgars, Jet and CNA, has secured $191 million from lenders, landlords and the Public Investment Corp.

Edcon has been saved. Thousands of workers within South Africa’s largest clothing retailer, its suppliers and even landlords breathed a collective sigh of relief on Friday as the group announced that it had secured $191 million in new funding to recapitalise the cash-strapped company.

The deal will free the Johannesburg-based retailer of all interest-bearing debt and will see its backers become new shareholders, Edcon said in an emailed statement on Friday.

The funding from landlords will come in the form of rent reductions, the retailer added.

The news comes three years after Bain Capital Private Equity LP handed the company to creditors after a 2007 buyout turned sour. Edcon continued to struggle under a debt burden that was a legacy of that deal, and Chief Executive Officer Grant Pattison has been working on a turnaround and restructuring for much of his year in charge.

At stake were the livelihoods of about 30,000 employees, a supply chain that includes 750 companies and floor space that accounts for one tenth of the occupancy in South Africa’s biggest shopping malls. More than one in four people in the country are unemployed.

Pattison’s attention will now turn fully to restoring the fortunes of Edgars, the flagship brand, low-cost clothing specialist Jet and stationery chain CNA. Edcon has been closing shops and reducing floor space, and “numerous other strategic initiatives are underway,” the CEO said in the statement.

“There was encouraging progress over the festive and back-to-school trading periods,” he said. “Reassuringly, our credit sales growth has exceeded our cash sales growth for the past several months, and the number of active accounts has increased for the first time since 2012.”

The restructuring brings on board the PIC, Africa’s largest money manager with about 2 trillion rand in assets. The Pretoria-based company, which administers government-worker pension funds, is the subject of an ongoing inquiry into how it makes investment decisions after a series of scandals last year.

Redefine Properties Ltd. contributed 54.6 million rand of equity agreed to rental reductions of as much as 13.8 million rand, the Johannesburg-based real estate firm said in a separate statement.

Hyprop Investments which owns malls like Hyde Park Corner, Rosebank Mall and Canal Walk, has a strong interest in Edcon’s survival, given that the owner of Edgars, Jet and CNA occupied 66,781m² of space in Hyprop’s malls at the end of December, or 9.2% of its gross lettable area.  

Hyprop has been working with Edcon to reduce the retailer’s space requirements. The companies had agreed that 7,563m² would be vacated in the short term, Hyprop said on Friday.

Liberty Two Degrees (L2D), which is the Liberty Group’s listed property vehicle, has portfolio exposure to Edcon is 5.9% of the total gross lettable area of its portfolio. L2D co-owns Sandton City, Nelson Mandela Sqaure, Eastgate Shopping Centre and Melrose Arch.

In 2017, Liberty Two Degrees and Hyprop Investments emerged as the biggest losers from the closure of Stuttafords Stores. The 150-year-old department store officially closed its doors in 2017 amid tough economic challenges.

Read more on:

Hyprop Investments  |  Retail Property  |  Redefine Properties  |  Edcon Limited  |  Liberty Two Degrees  |  Grant Pattison  |  Edgars Stores


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