File picture: Leon Nicholas, Independent Media

Johannesburg - Edcon plans to cut jobs at its 13,000-employee Edgars chain starting May as it aims to reduce costs at the flagship division.

“The chain is still below its productivity and efficiency targets,” Debbie Millar, a spokeswoman for the Johannesburg-based company, said in an e-mail today.

“Any job losses are regrettable.”

Edcon, controlled by US private-equity firm Bain Capital Partners, has been revamping some of its 190 Edgars stores in an effort to improve market share.

The chain has started selling international brands including T.M. Lewin, Dune London, Tom Tailor, Lucky Brand, and Lipsy as concessions in the shops.

The company, which also owns the C&A and Jet chains in South Africa, has started a consultation process with affected employees and will provide exact numbers of job losses later in the process, Millar said.

Not all Edgars stores will lose staff and job cuts will include managers, she said.

The chain employs about 13,000, including temporary workers.

Edcon second-quarter sales rose and losses narrowed as trading at lower-price units improved and the company introduced new brands, Edcon said November 21.

Retail sales advanced 5.9 percent to 6 billion rand in the three months to September 28 and cash sales grew 17.4 percent.

Bain, based in Boston, bought Edcon in 2007 for 25 billion rand in an effort to tap rising consumer spending in Africa’s largest economy.

South African retail sales growth slowed to 3.5 percent in December from a revised 4.4 percent the month before.

Edcon will report third-quarter earnings on February 20. - Bloomberg News