Thursday, 11 December 2014
South African billionaire plans to launch major new fashion retailer (UK)
Christo Wiese assembles team of retailers, including the former boss of Asda, to build new retail brand in the UK. The South African billionaire Christo Wiese is planning to launch on the UK retail market and has built a collection of leading figures from the industry to lead his plans.
A new company called Pepkor UK Retail Limited, named after Mr Wiese’s holding group, has been registered at Companies House with a team of directors led by the former boss of Asda, Andy Bond. Pepkor is understood to be planning a new discount fashion chain in the UK, which had been code-named Project 50 because the plan is to open 50 stores within two months of the business launching.
The retail chain will be targeted at mothers and children and sell a range of affordable fashion products similar to what is on offer in Britain’s supermarkets. The senior team assembled by Pepkor includes Mr Bond, who is also the chairman of online cycling retailer Wiggle, and Mark Jackson, the finance director of Pepkor UK who previously held the same role at department store Heal’s.
The other members of the team are Catherine Haydon, the trading director, who used to be head of merchandising at Marks & Spencer, Adrian Mountford, previously of Matalan and Sainsbury’s clothing arm Tu, and Mark Elliott, an ex-Bain consultant and a business partner of Mr Bond.
Savills, the property agent, has been hired by Pepkor to lead a search for 3,000 ft² (approx. 279 m²) to 5,000 ft² (approx. 465 m²) high street stores and rental agreements on properties could be agreed within days. Mr Wiese is thought to be worth more than £2 bln (approx. €2.5 bln) and last year was linked with a takeover of BHS, the department store chain controlled by Sir Philip Green. The plan to launch a new retail chain could be a boost to beleaguered high streets across the UK, and Pepkor will look to take advantage of a fall in rents in secondary towns. Dominant players such as Marks & Spencer and Next, Pepkor will be taking on discount chains such as Primark, Matalan and TK Maxx.
Source: The Telegraph