Poundland’s owner Steinhoff has faced shareholders for the first time since its value was decimated at the end of last year amid an accounting scandal.
The South African retail giant held its Annual General Meeting with shareholders today in Cape Town and has pleaded for support to avoid further financial losses.
In December Steinhoff, which also owns Harvey’s and Bensons for Beds here in the UK, revealed a €6 billion black hole in its accounts, and a PwC investigation has since uncovered inflation of income and asset values over many years.
Speaking to shareholders today Steinhoff’s chairwoman Heather Sonn said: “There was a time in early December that it could be likened to finding oneself in a burning building.
“Typically when in a burning building you run out. Some stayed. We are happy some stayed in the burning building to help.”
She added that the company was continuing its investigation and seeking to prosecute any wrongdoing, emphasising that former chief executive Markus Jooste had been referred to authorities.
Though Sonn said it was important to retain executives who were familiar with the business, the entire board has agreed to quit with immediate effect if they’re implicated in the investigation.
The board added that the retailer’s financial situation is still “very challenged” but liquidity is assured temporarily. It has sold stakes in various companies in order to raise capital, but said this was an unsustainable strategy.