File image. Photo: Reuters
Johannesburg - South Africa’s troubled retailer, Edcon Group, said on Thursday that it would appoint Grant Pattison, the former Massmart boss, as its new chief executive next February in a vote of confidence for home grown talent.

South African-born Pattison has been tasked with implementing the group’s strategy, revitalising CNA, growing Edcon’s cellular business and growing the company in South Africa and the rest of the African continent.

Speaking to journalists at the company’s headquarters in Johannesburg yesterday, Pattison said he planned to step up to the challenge of restoring the Edcon’s image.

“The challenge of restoring Edcon to its former glory is both a privilege and a massive challenge,” he said.

Edcon has lost significant market share from local and international competitors, and was trying to claw back its diminishing customer base.

Pattison said he was not fazed by challenges in the retail sector.

“I am a professional chief executive and someone has to step and help the company through these times,” Pattison said.

Pattison, who is currently a non-executive director, will replace Bernie Brookes. Brookes will step down following a two-year tenure at Edcon.

Brookes, the former managing director of the Myer Group, is set to extend his contract, which was due to run until January next year.

Read also: Edcon debt is reduced to R7bn

To ensure a smooth transition, Pattison will be appointed as Edcon’s chief executive and chief operations officer designate on June 5, joining the executive management of the group and reporting to Brookes.

Brookes said that CNA had lost its path and the company would need to spend R100 million to revitalise the stores' brand image.

“CNA fiddled in far too many categories. When you fiddle, you fail. We will take CNA back to its roots of being a stationery store. For example we were selling DVDs,” he said.

Brookes said that the company would eliminate the sale of items like toys at CNA.

“We will limit the sale of toys to peak periods like Christmas and Valentine’s Day,” he said.

Largest

Edcon is the largest clothing, footwear and general merchandise retailer in South Africa, completed by the sale of its Legit business for R637 million.

It operates more than 1400 stores with nine store formats and annual revenues of R25.2 billion.

The company said it had put the brakes on opening new stores and that there were 120 less stores this year compared with last year as part of the company’s plan to consolidate struggling operations.

“We have more space than any other retailer in South Africa. In some cases we have stores in the central business districts and we have stores in rural areas which are struggling because of the drought.

"We are planning to close struggling stores, and we will change labels in favour of more profitable ones,” he said.

Edcon, whose division includes Edgars, Boardmans, Red Square and mono-branded stores, has decided to exit international brands in favour of local brands.

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