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Tekkie Town executives walk out

As the battle with Star executives becomes personal.

The relationship between the management of Steinhoff Retail Limited (Star) and discount retailer Tekkie Town has broken down irretrievably, resulting in the walkout last night of Tekkie Town CEO, Bernard Mostert; the COO, Dawie van Niekerk, CIO Willem Wait and chief procurement officer, Mike Brown. Their departure precipitated the resignations of a number of other top managers and 100 staff.

This follows the resignation of Tekkie Town founder Braam van Huyssteen from his role as chairman of Star’s Property division in late May. He was subsequently removed from his position as chairman of the Speciality Fashion and Footwear division by the Star executive. 

“It was not easy to walk away from the people, but I could not stay in a place where the values do not match your own,” says Mostert. “I must be clear, this is not a strategy. We are not coercing people to leave. But for us, as senior management, we were exposed to this ludicrous fight between Braam and the senior executives of Star, which has become vindictive and personal. We could not do it any longer.”

He says that he, along with other executives, will sue Star for constructive dismissal.

Star issued a short statement acknowledging the resignations, which took place with immediate effect. An interim management team led by Riaan van Rooyen (currently the operational director at Ackermans) has been deployed. “Tekkie Town is an important part of Star, and further support will be provided to Tekkie Town, as required, through Star’s extensive operational capability,” the statement says. 

The battle between the Tekkie Town founder and Star follows the implosion of Steinhoff and collapse in its share price last December, which left the Tekkie Town vendors – along with thousands of other shareholders – holding paper that is now virtually worthless. Steinhoff acquired Tekkie Town in February 2017 and Van Huyssteen is pursuing several avenues in a bid to have the acquisition of Tekkie Town by Steinhoff cancelled and reversed.

He has also said that he may open a rival to Tekkie Town.

Read: Tekkie Town two in the wings

In the latest twist in the story, Van Huyssteen has issued eviction notices to Tekkie Town in George, Shoe City in Somerset West and Tekkie Town in Cape Town. 

The inevitable disruption that this walkout will bring to the business does not bode well. The acquisition of Tekkie Town and BSG added welcome scale to Star’s Speciality division, swelling operating profit margin from 2.3% in the six-month comparative period to 6.1% in the six months to March 2018. 

Tekkie Town operates 368 stores within Star’s total retail footprint of more than 5 100 stores and contributes about 3% to Star’s consolidated annual revenue.

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I was told that Pepkor tried for years to acquire TekkieTown but they could never get them to sell. However, a little more than a year ago, Magic Marcus burst onto the scene and did the impossible. Everyone was once again in awe of the man who could literally make water run uphill and sell sand to an Arab. How quickly things change!

In expected, typical Jooste cowboy style, the boertjie mafia of STAR are at it again. Alienating experienced, well performing senior management, embroiled in in-fighting and with individuals positioning themselves for emancipation from parent Steinhoff.

Never could stand together, can’t work together, all bigger than the sum total of the business, over-inflated, frail, individualistic self egos. Put three boetjies together and they break-up by starting a new dutch church.

This cowboy style manners will eventually result in a break-up of the STAR Group with Pepcor being recouped by Wiese, Tekkie Town reclaimed by Van Huyssteen and company, and the balance of STAR ripe for a hostile take-over. Couldn’t have expected any other outcome from them.

Wow. Replace boertjie/dutch with with the racial epithet of your choice referring to black people, Indians or Jews and you would rightfully be called out as a racist and might even end up in jail. But seeing that it is the skunks of the world you are insulting you can say what you want.

Jingoism alive and well in SA more than 100 years after the Boer War. What irritates me the most is that you probably go around claiming you and your fellow souties had no hand in apartheid it was all down the dimwitted Dutchmen. You lot make me sick

or maybe under Steinhoff they did what they wanted to…now under the management of real retailers like a Pepkor they cant handle all the controls

Fransie, you are a knower of all things and commentator on even more, with wisdom beyond apparent own experience as a director/manager/owner. You have officially taken over the role of our erstwhile Sydney friend. Congratulations.

Fransie, I am surprised you are still commenting on Moneyweb every day. I would have thought you would have been flooded with offers for executive and non-executive positions at Top 40 companies by now as you portray yourself as indispensable in such a role?

Sometimes wondering about emptiness of a shop and making money. For sure the other way around, full shoppers, management will be singing all the way to a next shareholders meeting. This walkout looks like leaving a sinking ship first.

Of course it is ‘strategy’, what does he mean it is. Anyone with basic common sense can see right through it. You mean to say that a specific few people in management are going to ‘walk off’ and a 100 staff are going to put their families’ lives on the line and follow these guys into the abyss? No, way no how. It is part of their ‘strategery’ to undermine and sabotage Tekkie Town and by extension Steinhoff Africa. It was quite clear from their legal action that they were saboteurs and not good to be in this business, and they could not run it well, in all good faith. But to think they can ‘walk off’ the job and then sue the employer for ‘quitting’ at their own free will smacks of over confidence. No judge or Commissioner is going to find in their favour. You don’t get a settlement for ‘walking off the job in solidarity’ with someone who resigned. The owners should start vetting their staff, there may be sleepers left behind.

The staff did not follow them after they resigned. Many staff members was “asked to resign”. The top dogs followed only afterwards. Wonder why? Still not thinking this is a deliberate strategy? Think again…
And doing this and involving innocent staff in their own battles is unprofessional and childish to say the least. Intellectual property of STAR manipulated into marionettes…

The fact that these guys walk out of the business is an indication of how they value their staff – to do this without considering their plight is sheer selfish, after all the staff were not the decision makers who sold their souls to Steinhoff/Marcus Jooste

Good riddance. I fear van huuysten and his ilk have a overinflated sense of their worth. Really…its selling tekkies. All these walkouts will cause the company inconvenience for the 2-3 months it takes to replace them. Then it’s business as usuaual.

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