Heather Sonn.Photographer: Dwayne Senior/Bloomberg
JOHANNESBURG - Steinhoff Africa Retail (STAR) yesterday announced the resignation of long-serving Heather Sonn from its board in what it called changes to its executive structure.

The group said Sonn stepped down on Monday in order to focus her attention on her position as chair of the supervisory board of Steinhoff International.

The group said Sonn contributed in steadying the company during a difficult period that was sparked by its parent company Steinhoff International's accounting irregularities last year. It said Philip Dieperink had been appointed to take over from Sonn.

STAR also appointed Mark Harris as an independent non-executive director, and he will also serve on the board’s remuneration committee.

It said Harris brought with him a broad range of business competencies, including strategy, mergers and acquisitions, innovation, technology and digitisation, crucial in the modern digital revolution.

“His experience spans more than 35 years and goes across a large number of industries and geographies, including Africa, North America, Europe and the Middle East as an IBM vice-president,” the group said.

The group said non-executive directors, who are categorised as independent, underwent an external evaluation of their independence in accordance with the company’s standard practices. It said board chairman Jayendra Naidoo would be classified as a non-executive director.

In addition, the board has established a social and ethics committee, as required by the Companies Act No 71 of 2008.

“This requirement was previously fulfilled by the Steinhoff Investment Holdings governance and sustainability committee. Fagmeedah Petersen-Cook has been appointed as the chair of the company’s social and ethics committee and Leon Lourens has been appointed as a member of the social and ethics committee,” the group said.

Ron Klipin, a senior analyst at Cratos Capital, said the shake-up of the board was positive for the company. He said the appointment of new independent non-executive directors would also help in restoring investor confidence in STAR.

“Heather Sonn has resigned to spend time on her duties as chair of Steinhoff International, and STAR is due to change its name to Pepkor to reflect positive changes in the group,” Klipin said. STAR said it believed that the new board represented an excellent, diversified set of skills.

“The recent additions to the board boost the set of skills required to ensure that the board is equipped to deal with the challenges it faces in a difficult economic environment,” the group said.

- BUSINESS REPORT