Steinhoff Weighs Options For Pepkor Europe, Says CEO
Retail group Steinhoff is considering all options over the future of its Pepkor Europe operation, including a potential initial public offering, CEO Louis du Preez said on Tuesday.
"We are looking at all options and there is definitely no decision made either way," du Preez said when asked about reports it was considering floating the business, which owns Britain's Poundland and retail chains Dealz and Pepco.
Elsewhere, the group said that its only hope for survival is to sell off assets to become a retail-focused holding company, as it fights to recover from a $7 billion accounting fraud and share price crash.
Established more than 50 years ago, the firm transformed itself from a small South African outfit to a furniture and household goods retailer straddling four continents before it shocked investors by flagging holes in its accounts in December 2017.
Since then, it has had to stomach losses of up to $4 billion a year and a dramatic fall from grace that has left it fighting to stay afloat.
CEO du Preez delivered a stark assessment of Steinhoff's options at the company's first public investor presentation since the scandal took hold, saying a radical transformation into a retail-focused investment holding company was its "only way to survive".
Steinhoff has already sold a number of assets that do not align with that plan, and is looking to sell off others as well as cut jobs at its French retail chain Conforama, its management said during the presentation.
In a subsequent interview, du Preez said this would also give individual units more operational independence and decision-making power by reducing services like human resources and financing at group level.
"There is a lot of work still to be done, but I think management is doing the right things and focusing on the right things, although it still has a mountain to climb," said Sarine Barnard, an analyst at Investec Asset Management who attended the presentation.