45 of 2023

Newsletter No 45/17 November 2023                              

                  

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MaXhosa’s latest collection is out of this world

By Bongiwe Nocanda

MaXhosa founder Laduma Ngxokolo presents his ready-to-wear, spring-summer 2023 collection at the Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town

Celebrating 13 years, the MaXhosa brand has grown up. Largely informed by Xhosa beadwork patterns and symbols in striking hues, the label is known for its signature graphic knitwear. With Laduma Ngxokolo at the helm, MaXhosa is bold in its approach to showcasing African modernity while embracing heritage and culture.

The latest collection titled A.S.T.O (an acronym for African Space Travellers Organisation) maintains the fashion house’s DNA but reveals a slight departure with futuristic, bold intergalactic graphics, and set against the backdrop of Zeitz MOCAA’s hollowed silos, there is an otherworldly aesthetic to this collection.

“While our largest consumer segment is still 30 — 60 years old, we are definitely looking towards the international trends coming from Gen Z, whether it’s the cut or print,” says Ngxokolo. “The digital age has changed the landscape and we are heavily informed by the sensory developments in the Metaverse and the advancements in AI and what these will mean for the brand. As an organisation we are devoting a lot of research to ensuring that when we do show up in these spaces, we remain at the highest standard of luxury.”

Speaking to the show’s title, “I’ve been fortunate enough to travel Africa and Europe extensively. I lived in London for two years,” he says. “During these travels I learnt to dress for the climate I was in. It taught me how to adapt my design style. I can confidently say that I can design for an East African or European customer. This idea of the travelling African is where the A.S.T.O acronym was birthed.”

Even though the brand is proudly African, Ngxokolo sticks to a specific aesthetic where it pertains to his influence. “We don’t want the brand to become a fruit salad for all African cultures. We retain a strong Nguni aesthetic. While the brand is called MaXhosa, ironically, our second-largest consumer base is in KwaZulu-Natal. I believe that’s because there are elements of Zulu symbolism that seep through into the creative. And if you know anything about Zulu culture, you’ll know that they are strong and proud nation, so to see the brand worn proudly at traditional Zulu events informs us that there is a recognition of Zulu culture in our clothing.”

As a student at the Nelson Mandela University, Ngxokolo had never left his province when he was approached by Ravi Naidoo to showcase his collection in front of over 2,000 people in Cape Town. Ngxokolo’s first stand-alone store was opened at the V&A Waterfront, a huge feat for the groundbreaking designer. That said, this is the first time that the fashion house has held a solo showcase in the Mother City.

MaXhosa recently opened its doors at OR Tambo International Airport, replacing Burberry in the airport’s duty free shopping court.

“Retail has been incredibly difficult as anyone who has tried their hand at the industry will tell you. I’ve had to learn every aspect of the business. That said, I deal 90% with the creative and delegate finance, HR and admin accordingly. Today we employ over 300 people.”

Ngxokolo is a true African industrialist owning, every aspect of the MaXhosa value chain, from manufacturing, retail to marketing. “Everything is produced locally. We use South African mohair and silk et cetera. We are invested in the sustainability of our by-products and the use of chemicals that are environmentally friendly.”   

The Studio 88 Group opens store number 888

The year is 2023, and it marks a formidable 22-year grind of collective efforts to make accessible branded fashion in sportswear, streetwear, and athleisure to all. Born from a vision, one Studio 88 store in Small Street Mall, situated in the heart of Johannesburg CBD, to a remarkable collective of 888 stores in the Studio 88 Group of Companies.

Looking back over 22 years of exceptional service in the retail industry and celebrating how far the Group has come, some may ask, did the auspicious number 8, a numerical symbol of wealth and prosperity, have something to do with the success? Was it sacrifice, hard work and dedication? And yet, the journey has been nothing short of incredible. Incredible odds for failure in a segmented market. Incredibly challenging – the first of its kind being an independent retailer. And yet, as it stands, it turns out to be incredibly inspiring regarding possibilities – to know that a vision, mixed with long hours, attention to detail, and most of all, awareness of your markets’ preferences and to offer the right product at the right price to your customer, has equated to an entrepreneurial success story.

“Celebrating our 888th store opening reflects our commitment to delivering quality, authentic, branded products at affordable prices. Retailing local and international football supporters’ gear below RSPs has allowed our customers to support their teams while being part of a greater community.” Comments Kaboomo Mgibi, Brand Manager of Studio 88.

The First Studio 88 Store: Where It All Began

The 2000s fashion is often described as a global fusion of trends, and this is where we, the retail giant recognised a gap in the market and answered the call of local fashionistas looking to live their most authentic branded life. Studio 88’s remarkable journey began in the heart of Johannesburg, South Africa. The year was 2001 and marked a significant event in an uncertain environment with a clear objective in mind – to build a footprint of retail stores – independent and top of mind. Studio 88 became an integral part of South Africa’s urban fashion culture, shaping fashion-conscious individuals into bolder, dressier, more fashionable versions of themselves.

The last two decades have seen Studio 88 expand its footprint to reach nearly every nook and cranny of the South African market with a non-stop, ever-ambitious expansion strategy in place. The Group, now 70% owned by the Mr Price Group (full ownership by 2026), will collectively offer their fashion collections for every occasion, never missing a trend. “Our obsession with providing a wide range of branded street and sportswear from leading international and local brands has made us a most desirable retailer when it comes to fashion for our customers. Our continued expansion, coupled with our focus on quality, affordability, and style, is evidence of our commitment to staying on top of the latest fashion trends while delivering exceptional customer service and affordable branded fashion.” Says Mgibi

Studio 88’s 22 Years of Style and Innovation

Since the inception of the Chain, Studio 88 have worked to a four-pillar ethos. (1) Fashion First (2) Price (3) Exclusivity (4) Store Environment. Sticking to the basics has astounded onlookers with relevance in their fashion offering. It is always on trend and has morphed into a full-blown cultural hub where individuals are free to express their style while embracing their uniqueness in a great shopping environment – with many coming to their stores just to listen to the music!

“As we evolve alongside our customers, so do our retail practices, ensuring we stay abreast of evolving trends in footwear and apparel. Technological innovations like online shopping, social media and digital platforms enable us to stay connected with our customers in a rapidly changing digital landscape.” Adds Mgibi.

“The Studio 88 Group’s 888th store opening is momentous, and it is with unwavering commitment to our valued customers and brand partners alike we will continue to deliver on our promises. 22 years and 887 stores more equate to a widespread fashion presence today. We will continue to deliver and exceed expectations to resonate with individuals from all walks of life and shape the fashion landscape in South Africa and beyond. As we celebrate the opening of our 888th store, here’s to Studio 88, the epitome of branded fashion for the people, keeping their style on the move!” She concludes.

TFG delivers record growth and market share despite tough environment

 

Highlights.

1.    Record Group revenue up 12,9% to R28,4 billion.

2.    TFG Africa retail turnover up 17,3%.

3.    Group online retail turnover up 23,9%, contributing 9,8% to total Group retail turnover, the growth largely attributable to strong growth in South Africa.

4.    Strong cash retail turnover growth of 14,6%, contributing 82,0% to total Group retail turnover.

5.    Gross profit up 7,7% to R12,5 billion.

6.    Trading expenses as a percentage of Group retail turnover improved to 41,9% from 42,3% in the prior period.

7.    Headline earnings per share down 15,3% to 393,6 cents per share.

8.    Interim dividend declared of 150,0 cents per share.

TFG announced its interim financial results for the six months ended 30 September 2023, delivering a pleasing performance despite tough trading conditions and a high comparable base

 Commenting on the results, Anthony Thunström, TFG CEO said, “These results demonstrate the strength and resilience of our businesses, despite the challenging macro environment, and our leadership teams’ keen focus on managing our cost base. We saw healthy turnover growth, driven by the expansion of our footprint and brand portfolio, with particularly strong online sales growth in South Africa. We remain confident in the execution of our strategy and are well positioned to leverage the diversity of our Group to see us through the tough trading cycle.”

Strong trading performance and cost control across all territories

TFG Africa’s retail turnover grew by 17,3%, driven largely by the clothing and homeware merchandise categories, despite higher unemployment rates, reduced consumer confidence and ongoing loadshedding. Approximately 287 000 trading hours were lost during the first half due to loadshedding, which further impacted gross margins through inventory clearance.

Due to this continued consumer pressure, the Group strategically absorbed cost inflation and undertook additional promotional activity to successfully manage inventory and increase market share gains.

Cash retail turnover increased by 14,6% contributing 82,0% to total Group retail turnover. Credit retail turnover grew by 3,5%, with credit extension consciously curtailed in light of the difficult consumer environment.

FG London and TFG Australia’s performance was up against an unsustainable prior period due to the buoyant sales experienced in the post COVID-19 trading period. TFG Australia’s retail turnover declined 7,2%, due to the impact of higher inflation and interest rates on customer demand. Retail turnover in TFG London declined by 10,5%, however gross margin was maintained.

Online sales continued growth

Online retail turnover increased by 23,9% and now contributes 9,8% to total Group retail turnover. TFG Africa’s online retail turnover growth increased a remarkable 56,5%, driven by our continued strategic focus on diversification of brands and omnichannel retailing.

“Our online shopping platform, Bash, has already begun to make a significant impact on our sales growth as well as broadening the total online offer for customers. The consolidation of all our Africa retail brands on this platform and app provides our more than 35 million customers with the number one local fashion retail app,” added Thunström.

 Continued store growth

During the first six months of the year, TFG opened 199 new stores. Following the acquisition of Street Fever, an independent retailer of affordable branded footwear and apparel, the Group has integrated 91 Street Fever outlets into Sneaker Factory. This has allowed TFG to quickly scale the Sneaker Factory business to 219 stores.

 Outlook

“This period has demonstrated the Group’s operating and financial strength and agility to navigate through the tough economic environment. While we expect trading conditions and consumer confidence to remain under pressure, we are clear on our strategy and focussed on execution, particularly as we enter the important Black Friday and Christmas festive season trade. We will continue to focus on the consolidation of our world class retail assets to further improve our balance sheet strength and position our business for sustained future growth,” concluded Thunström.

Pepkor – changes to the board and board committees

The board of directors of the Company (“Board”) advised shareholders and noteholders that Ms Nunu Rosemary Ntshingila (“Nunu”) has been appointed as an independent non-executive director to the Board of Pepkor and as a member of the human resources and remuneration committee, with immediate effect.

The Board also deemed it appropriate to reduce the number of directors serving on the investment committee. Ms Hester Hickey (“Hester”) therefore steps down as a member of the investment committee with immediate effect. Hester will continue to serve as Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee.

Woolies – trading update

The Group’s turnover and concession sales from continuing operations (i.e. excluding David Jones which was disposed of in the prior period) for the 20 weeks ended 12 November 2023 increased by 4.7% and by 3.9% in constant currency. Sales growth for the current period should also be considered in the context of the high prior-year base in which Group sales grew by 13.4%, driven in part by the post-Covid pent-up demand in Australia

Truworths – business update

Truworths International Group retail sales for the first 17 weeks (from 3 July 2023 to 29 October 2023) of the 2024 financial period (‘the current period’) increased by 10.9% to R6.6 billion, compared to the first 17 weeks (from 4 July 2022 to 30 October 2022) of the 2023 financial period (‘the prior period’ or ‘Oct 22’).

Account sales comprised 47% (Oct 22: 52%) of Group retail sales, with account and cash sales increasing by 0.1% and 22.5%, respectively, relative to the prior period.
Company outlook

While the Group is pleased with the positive sales momentum in Office, South African consumers are expected to remain under pressure as electricity, fuel, food, borrowing and general cost of living increases continue to weigh on disposable income.

Group remains cautiously optimistic about the medium-term outlook for the South African economy. Household spending will benefit as inflation moderates, with the potential for interest rate relief, while a sustained reduction in load shedding and a stable post-election environment could stimulate consumer confidence and economic activity.

The Group will continue its focus on the strategic initiatives outlined in its 2023 annual results and integrated report. In Truworths Africa, these initiatives include launching new retail concepts, expanding its integrated in-house design capability and improving speed to market, and investing in technology, including the omni-channel experience.

In the constrained spending environment, Truworths aims to sustain growth by capitalising on the strength of its account portfolio, its expanding customer base and the appeal of its quality, aspirational fashion, supported by the Group’s strong balance sheet and robust cash flows.

Office’s growth will be driven by introducing and growing new brands, new store openings, and the remodelling and extension of existing stores in strategically important locations, supported by the strength of its relationships with the world’s leading footwear brands as well as the planned investment in technology and customer relationship management capabilities.

The Group’s interim results for the 26-week period ending 31 December 2023 are scheduled to be released on or about Thursday, 29 February 2024.

Revenue in the Fashion Market is projected to reach US$700.90bn in 2023. Revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2023-2028) of 8.67%, resulting in a projected market volume of US$1,062.00bn by 2028. With a projected market volume of US$218.40bn in 2023, most revenue is generated in China.

 

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