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'Somebody' may be behind Tekkie Town walk out - STAR chair

Jun 28 2018 20:58
Carin Smith

Steinhoff Africa Retail (STAR) maintains that it is not a party to any alleged earn out agreement between the original founders and shareholders of Tekkie Town and Steinhoff International Holdings N.V.

STAR's chair Jayendra Naidoo told Fin24 on Thursday that STAR has received advice from senior counsel that there is no reasonable prospect of it being held liable in this regard.

On Tuesday Bernard Mostert, the CEO of Tekkie Town, and other senior members of management, resigned with immediate effect.

In response, STAR deployed an interim management and support team from various other businesses within STAR, led by Riaan van Rooyen (currently the operational director at Ackermans) to stabilise operations and to ensure continued trading in Tekkie Town stores.

"We do not think the alleged earn out claim has a reasonable prospect of succeeding against us. If they decide to take it all the way through the legal process, STAR will defend the matter," said Naidoo.

"Our position is that we have a company with lots of expertise and resources and we deployed a management team to take over the running of Tekkie Town. The business is still open and operating. It is important for us, our staff and customers to keep Tekkie Town a success."

He says the kind of walk-out done at Tekkie Town is unprecedented and he does not rule out the possibility that "somebody may be behind it to achieve some other goal". He did not elaborate as to who this might be.

"So, we are looking carefully at our legal rights to make sure STAR and Tekkie Town's positions are not compromised by any other agenda. We find ourselves faced by a number of 'skirmishes', which we are dealing with one at a time. We will manage the situation. We are not in business to go for tit for tat."

He is concerned about the families of the people who "walked off the job" at Tekkie Town as they "face uncertainties about future employment" prospects since they breached their contracts.

Naidoo said Tekkie Town is an important part of STAR, operating 368 stores within STAR’s total retail footprint of more than 5 100 stores and contributes approximately 3% to STAR’s consolidated annual revenue. Tekkie Town currently employs almost 3 200 of STAR's total number of employees of 46 000.

As for the overall plan at STAR, Naidoo said once all the corporate issues that came up over the past six months are "tidied up", the "new Pepkor" will continue to focus on retail in Africa and continue to grow as it has been doing.

"Our business will keep on moving forward," he emphasised.

By the end of trade on Thursday the STAR share price was up 3.45% on R16.81.

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