Steinhoff International’s results were initially expected at the end of December. Photo: David Harrison
DURBAN – Steinhoff International has pushed back the release of Steinhoff Investment Holdings audited results for 2017 and 2018 to the end of May, without giving reasons for the delay.

Steinhoff Investment Holdings is a subsidiary of the troubled retailer, which plunged more than 95percent in December 2017 after admitting to accounting irregularities. Steinhoff International results were initially expected at the end of December.

The group then pushed the release of its results to mid-April, with Steinhoff Investment Holdings results to be published soon thereafter. It cited delays to a forensic investigation being conducted by auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which was originally expected to be completed at the end of February, but which investigators described as a “complex investigation”.

“Shareholders are referred to the announcement made on December 6, 2018, where the company announced that Steinhoff International Holdings had estimated that it will publish its group audited financial statements for 2017 and 2018 by the middle of April 2019, and that the 2017 and 2018 financial statements for Steinhoff Investment Holdings will be released shortly thereafter,” the group said in a note to shareholders on Wednesday.

Steinhoff is facing a challenging time in France after a report said its subsidiary, Conforama, was planning to cut 2000 jobs and it could possibly be sold later.

The report claimed that Steinhoff was aiming to sell Conforama for €700 million (R11 billion). Steinhoff acquired Conforama in 2011 for €1.2bn, and the French retailer has more than 300 stores across Europe.

Jordan Weir, a trader at Citadel, said it was possible that cost-cutting and the sale of subsidiaries might be on the cards for Steinhoff.

“Irregular accounting practices over the past few years have resulted in high debt at Steinhoff and its subsidiaries, and a sale or job losses at Conforama could certainly be possible.

“Another factor to consider is whether Steinhoff would look at holding on to Conforama during the course of its restructuring, or whether it would rather look at disposing of the subsidiary at a satisfactory price prior to any material group restructuring,” Weir said.

“As it stands, when looking at Conforama, it seems likely that job losses and store closures will occur in the near future,” he said.

Weir also noted that the PwC investigation feedback would most likely provide the underlying shareholders with greater clarity on where the company was headed from here and the challenges it might still face.

Steinhoff shares rose 0.47 percent on the JSE on Wednesday to close at R2.16.

BUSINESS REPORT