Listed retail group Steinhoff Africa Retail (Star) will ask its shareholders for permission to change its name to Pepkor Holdings, bringing to a close a three-year journey that has ended in tears for Africa’s premier retailer and other associated brands.
“This is the same business it was eight months ago when we unbundled from Steinhoff and listed on the JSE,” says Star CEO Leon Lourens. “We serve over 400 million people a year. At the ground level we continue to trade as we have always done. But at a corporate level we have been tainted by the goings on at the holdings level. My team and I are determined to work through this and regain the trust and credibility we had.”
Changing the group’s identity – or reverting to the old identity – is just one step in this direction. At the release of the group’s interim results to March 31 in Cape Town on Tuesday, Lourens announced that former CEO Pieter Erasmus will join the Star board as a non-executive director from October. Reconstituting the board – from an old boys club tainted by its Steinhoff association into a diverse and effective oversight body – has been on the agenda for months and new appointments are imminent.
Despite the tumultuous period since December when Star’s majority shareholder, Steinhoff, reported accounting wrongdoing that wiped 90% off its market value, the group’s operating performance for the half year was credible.