19 of 2017


Newsletter No.19    26 May 2017

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New Appointments at Ackermans

Ephraim Mambolo                                                                                                                  Robyn Edwards

Ackermans, one of South Africa’s best-loved, longest-standing retailers, has recently made updates to its marketing team.

Ephraim Mamabolo, who was appointed Marketing Manager at Ackermans in mid 2016, has been promoted to Marketing Director.

Mamabolo has spent over two decades in the retail industry, having worked for a number of large South African chains.

Mamabolo says, “I have only been at Ackermans for a short while, but what an exciting journey it has been thus far. I have always had a strong affiliation to the brand and felt ‘at home’ as soon as I walked through the door.

“My main priority is to ensure that customers remain at the heart of each business decision, and that our commitment to bringing value to life is not only upheld, but also communicated across every touchpoint.”

Reporting directly to Mamabolo is new Marketing Manager Robyn Edwards, who will oversee the Clothing, Footwear and Homeware (CFH) divisions.

With almost 10 years’ experience in the retail industry, Edwards joined the Ackermans family in 2017, essentially filling Mamabolo’s shoes as Marketing Manager: CHF. An innovative thinker and energetic go-getter, Edwards is drawn to the challenge of “impacting purchasing decisions by applying creativity.”

Mamabolo and Edwards will play a key role in the development and implementation of Ackermans’ marketing strategy, through ensuring that the brand continues to innovate and evolve, maintaining its position as market leader in the value retail category.

Retail sales rebound in March – but not enough to save quarterly decline

South African retail sales rebounded in March, but not enough to save a quarterly decline that may contribute to the country falling into a technical recession.

Stats SA reported on Wednesday that retail sales in March were 0.8% higher than the same month in 2016. However, because the Easter holidays fell in March 2016, but not in March 2017, the seasonally adjusted figure showed more moderate growth of 0.3%.

The 0.8% rebound in March followed declines of 1.6% in February and 2.3% in January, taking the decline for the first quarter to 1.1%.

Wednesday’s data provides economists with a clue as to whether the first quarter of 2017 will show SA’s gross domestic product (GDP) suffered a second quarter of decline after coming in at negative 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2016. Two consecutive quarters of GDP decline is the generally accepted definition of a recession.

Retail is lumped into “trade, catering and accommodation” for calculating GDP. This segment accounted for 14% of the R3-trillion total in the December quarter.

Stats SA’s mining production data showed 3.5% growth in the March quarter, a strong rebound from an 11.5% decline in the December quarter. Mining contributed 7% of the fourth quarter’s GDP.

The decline in manufacturing, which contributed 12% of the total of SA’s December GDP, narrowed to 0.9% in the March quarter from 3.1% in the prior quarter.

At current prices, total retail sales amounted to R77bn in March. Stats SA accounts for inflation by adjusting the figure to 2012 prices, which came in at R61bn.

Stats SA segments retail sales into five categories. The largest, with a 45% slice of the total, general dealers, suffered a 0.8% decline in sales. Food and beverages retailers saw a 14.8% jump in sales, taking their contribution to 8% of the total.

Clothing retailers suffered a 5.6% decline, which the JSE appears to have anticipated with TFG’s share price down 3.8% to R147, Truworths down 2.6% to R74.47, and Mr Price down 2.6% to R144 at 1.20pm.

Behind the design: Country Road homeware

This season the Country Road homeware design team were inspired by the Australian way of life, with natural materials and colours aplenty. Here, we go behind the design and meet the team as they share the inspiration and processes that went into this season’s collection.

Bruce Summers, homeware design manager

What inspired the collection?

The biggest influence for the new collection is the Australian way of life. It was important for the products in the collection to be beautiful, but also have a casual ease about them. For colour, we looked to our environment and the way natural materials and flora take on new hues every season.

How does inspiration turn into product?

Our process has really evolved over the past year and has gone from looking internationally for inspiration, to looking at the elements and influences that are unique to Australia. I begin the process by giving a rough direction related to Australian lifestyle, seasonality and key lifestyle trends and then together as a team we brainstorm.

Once everybody has contributed their ideas, we refine them by justifying why they are important and identify key callouts for each season and each month and this forms the base for our design direction. We work very collaboratively to ensure there is cohesion in colour, form and material so that the products tell a story visually but also stand alone.

Once the range is signed off we move onto a briefing phase where the designers generate technical drawings and specifications which they hand over to our factories. The prototypes start arriving and then design is then refined and reworked until we get a result we love.

Stevie Price, junior textiles designer

Talk us through the design process you took in your approach to this season?

We begin each season by meeting with our design manager, Bruce who will brief us designers on the direction for the season. This season’s colour palette was inspired by an image of gum leaves!

We then have a number of design sessions as a team to talk through our ideas, to ensure we create a cohesive vision and we then begin sketching our designs.

What materials do you love working with and why?

We are always looking at sourcing new materials and this season we are really excited to be introducing silicone and ceramic into the napery category. I love using natural materials and traditional techniques in a contemporary and innovative way.

What is your favourite piece of this season?

Ignis Placemat and Coaster – made from the new silicone material. The Ignis range is versatile and easy care, which is a real focus for us in Home. We try to make as many of our products both versatile and easy to care for to coincide with our easy Australian lifestyle.

Jessica Heaslip,hardgoods designer

Talk us through the design process you took in your approach to this season?

This season our inspiration was drawn from soft rounded edges which are evident throughout or range. From this initial direction, I focus on details which we think will best suit my mediums and developed from there, ensuring that all product is designed to complement the rest of the range.

What materials do you love working with and why?

I love working with ceramic, metals, timber. For me it’s also about the finish you apply to the material. This can transform a product drastically and seeing the results is great fun.

Chrissy Keyte, textiles designer

Talk us through the design process you took in your approach to this season?

Collectively as a team we brainstormed ideas and decided on colour direction and to focus on soft structures and fusing linear forms with organic elements. From here I interpreted these ideas into textile form, focusing on slub, boucle and nep yarns along with organised texture.

What materials do you love working with and why?

Working with contrasting textures and looking at new yarns. Layering different finishes is always interesting and creates depth and to any room.

Tody Nowland, hardgoods designer

Talk us through the design process you took in your approach to this season?

For this season, I really tried to think about how we as Australians interact with and use the objects in our homes. Our lifestyle involves lots of time spent outdoors, entertaining with friends and family and plenty of time relaxing inside during cooler months. I focussed on working mainly with natural materials, plenty of natural timber, leather, and ceramics with an easy but refined raw texture.

We have a strong Father’s Day gifting range on offer including a leather stubby holder, moulded leather tray, a matching bar set and BBQ utensils, and wine rack.

What materials do you love working with and why?

I really enjoy working with timber; ensuring the natural timber grain is prominent in the design. While frustrating at times, the natural timber grain varies so much from piece to piece that it gives a sense of uniqueness from one to another. Timber can be a pleasure to prototype with as it’s so malleable, easy to work with, refine, and in most cases is quite a forgiving material. I enjoy experimenting with and refining timber joints, and making a design feature from them.

Source Africa 2017 had a substantial increase in visitors from last year. 18 Countries exhibited and provided a perfect opportunity for  manufacturers, wholesalers, brands, retailers and industry professionals to do business and to forge partnerships with key players in the industry.

Below are some pictures highlighting the event.

Remember to book your stand for next year’s event in May 2018, dates to be finalised.

Did you know….

It was apparently in vogue among Victorian women to pierce their nipples. After they were pierced, a gold “bosom ring” was inserted into the nipple, and sometimes a chain between the two nipples was also worn. Hmmm….

Oh, boobs: Two women died in 1999 after being struck by lightning. Their underwire bras acted as electricity conductors and transferred the current between the two women.


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