Picture: Edcon retail store in Canal Walk shopping centre, Century City. (Zeenat Vallie).
Picture: Edcon retail store in Canal Walk shopping centre, Century City. (Zeenat Vallie).
Picture: (from left) Edgars, Canal Walk store manager, Dean Thomson and Edcon Chief Executive Officer, Bernie Brookes. (Zeenat Vallie).
Picture: (from left) Edgars, Canal Walk store manager, Dean Thomson and Edcon Chief Executive Officer, Bernie Brookes. (Zeenat Vallie).
Picture: Edcon Chief Executive Officer, Bernie Brookes speaks about Edcon's new and improved cosmetic range. (Zeenat Vallie).
Picture: Edcon Chief Executive Officer, Bernie Brookes speaks about Edcon's new and improved cosmetic range. (Zeenat Vallie).
Picture: Edcon Chief Executive Officer, Bernie Brookes tells of Edcon's private brands such as men's shoe range, Signature. (Zeenat Vallie).
Picture: Edcon Chief Executive Officer, Bernie Brookes tells of Edcon's private brands such as men's shoe range, Signature. (Zeenat Vallie).

CAPE TOWN - Edcon, South Africa's largest retailer says it is doing better than before, despite a decline in credit sales which saw the retailer experiencing depressed sales.

CEO, Bernie Brookes tells of the brands latest success and initiatives. This has brought Edcon back in the retail game and a force to be reckoned with.

In a walk about at Edgars at Canal Walk shopping centre today, Brookes spoke of the company's latest offerings and plans for the future. 

"The market is dominated by private brands. Private brands perform much better than luxury brands", says Brookes. 

The group, which initially hosted 36 luxury brands has scaled down to a low of 9 brands. 

“We have launched a number of private brands such as Kelso cosmetics, Signature and La Prairie amongst other”, says Brookes. 

This is one of the brands' core strategy, which is to bring private brands to the forefront. 

“These brands have proven to be far more successful than the luxury brands”, says Brookes. 

Brookes then revealed that its private brand footprint has increased with the launch of their Kelso cosmetic brand last week. 

“We are very excited as this brand offers lots of customisation and appeals to a South African consumer”, said Thomson. 

Focusing on customer service, Edcon two years ago introduced a free customer service feedback platform. The feedback method involves SMS prompts whereby customers are enabled to rate Edcon’s service. Accessible to all Edgars Thank U card holders, the retailer is able to identify key areas of improvement. 

“What the customer tell you about the product is important as it tells you what you need to do to improve the quality or service”, says Edgars store manager, Dean Thomson. 

On Edcon’s new initiatives, Brookes emphasised that core to Edcon’s strategy is customer centricity, empowerment of staff and simplicity. 

By incorporating customer centricity, Edcon ensures that the customer has a positive experience in their store. 

“With Black Friday, we had a 30% discount on most of our items. However, when opening an account with Edgars, you receive R600 off your purchase. A customer then demanded the 30% discount on each item in addition to the R600 discount. As a brand, we gave the customer his discount. We know that this was the right thing to do”, said Thomson. 

Brookes added that previously, “this would never happen in a store”. 

READ: Edcon surprises R1 million "thank U programme" winner

Their staff is also empowered by being active decision makers in the store. Senior management is now 80% on the floor, engaging with customers and ensuring a good shopping experience. 

“As a retailer, we have to stay ahead of the game but some brands fare better than other. Our menswear range and cellular is struggling”, said Thomson. We are focused on reinvigorating these ranges but you have to bear in mind that we competing directly with international brands. 

“One of our convenient initiatives is the Click and Collect. Because we own many stores, this option allows customers to purchase an item by Jet for example and collect it at Edgars”, said Brookes. This is one big advantage which will pick up on sales. 

As the group faced a colossal loss which saw the retailer losing nearly 500 000 credit customers, it hopes to recover its customers. 

“With the new ownership with Absa, Edcon was unable to provide credit to customers. However, we have now independently made credit available to customers. We are providing R600 million credit to customers”, said Brookes. 

“Where Absa says no, we say yes”, added Brookes. 

Another measure for Edcon to attract their customers is through lay-bye. 

“There is an enormous business in lay-bye. We currently have over half a million of sales that are taken on lay-bye by customers”, said Brooke. 

The group is also constructing a denim manufacturing plant in Pietermaritzburg. 

The plant, focusing primarily on manufacturing denim products and increasing local supply, has already employed nearly 600 people. 

“The more people we employ locally, the more people will come back and help us as a retailer”, said Brookes. 

On the company’s growth for the future, Brookes acknowledges that there may be a decline in store footprint which is why the brand plans on moving more than the current 20% of its business, online. 

READ ALSO: Edcon fails another 500 000 credit card customers

- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE