Steinhoff CEO says “the only way to survive” is to sell assets

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Steinhoff CEO says
Steinhoff is the owner of Poundland, Bensons for Beds, Harveys and Pep&Co
// Steinhoff to sell off assets and focus on retail investments
// Most of the restructuring will take place in its French market
// Steinhoff CEO Louis du Preez: Steinhoff’s strategy to sell off its assets was the “only way to survive”.

Steinhoff’s chief executive has said a restructure based on selling off assets in order to cut debt after an accountancy scandal was “the only way” for the company to stay alive.

According to City AM, the South African retail giant is looking to offload its non-retail assets and cut jobs at Conforama – its French retail chain.

In March, Steinhoff confirmed it had overstated profits between 2009 and 2017 in a $7.4 billion (£6.1 billion) fraud.

The company first admitted to the accounting irregularities in December 2017, which prompted a huge scandal and saw the sudden resignations of chief executive Markus Jooste and chairman Christo Weise.

The scandal also saw shares in Steinhoff – which is listed in both the Johanesburg and Frankfurt stock markets – nosedive by more than 90 per cent.

Louis du Preez, who was appointed as the new chief executive in January this year, told investors this week that Steinhoff’s strategy to sell off its assets was the “only way to survive”.

He also said the retail conglomerate’s debt of over $10 bilion was “too high”.

Last month, Steinhoff reported a €356 million (£315 million) half-year loss from continuing operations.

However, net sales from continuing operations increased three per cent year-on-year to €6.8 billion (£6 billion).

Steinhoff said its Pepkor Europe arm – of which Poundland is a part – was one of the driving forces behind the sales rise.

The loss it recorded for that period was also an improvement on losses of €392 million during the same time last year.

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