Newsletter 22 of 2019

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           Newsletter No. 22                                                     14 June 2019

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Superbalist.com – South Africa’s leading fashion e-tailer – has announced the launch of its private label

Inspired by catwalks and street-fashion around the world, every collection is limited and once-off. Additionally, the label is also proudly SA-focused, designed in-house by South Africans, with 80% of garments produced locally for a South African consumer.

David West, Head of Design at Superbalist, says, “The Superbalist label was created to capture the spirit of our brand. We are known for fashion and leading the way in terms of trends. We’re the destination to find something new and exciting. That’s what this collection encapsulates. It comprises accessible yet unique fashion at good prices, with pieces that have you covered from work to play.”

West believes that the collection continues the brand’s focus on empowering individuality through fashion. “Our hope is that people see the potential to express themselves through the Superbalist label. We help them to do this by releasing limited ranges in exclusive drops every week so that not everybody else is seen in the same item! It’s a collection of the newest trends and wardrobe staples done our way.”

Diversity is another big focus for the brand and the plus-size offering is a key component. This comes through strongly in the Superbalist label, which has the goal of creating main-range items in extended sizes. “Our commitment is to enable you to do fashion, your way. That means ensuring everyone has access to key pieces to unlock their individual creativity and confidence.”

“We want these items to last a few seasons”

West adds that the Superbalist label is intended to balance on-trend newness while maintaining a sense of timelessness. “Everybody wants to feel relevant, but nobody wants to feel like a fashion victim so getting that balance right is important as a design team. We want these items to last a few seasons. We provide quite a wide spectrum of wardrobe building items from basics to denim to smarter workwear so that the customer has the ability to interpret the collection in their own way.”

As ever, speed and newness are the beating heart of South Africa’s fastest-growing online fashion brand. West says, “We ship fast and deliver new fashion fast. We don’t wait to copy the rest of the world – we absorb the trends we like and interpret them in our own way, for a South African audience.”

West continues, saying that the dominant fabric choices of the collection reflect the most in-demand looks on the runways – and streets – right now, “It’s all about prints! Florals, geometrics, paisley and the biggest this season: animal print.”

He also teases that spring is going to be something special, “Our spring collection is on the way and it’s looking really strong – we have all the new trends covered, some really exciting prints and shapes and great swimwear for high summer.”

So, what are the trends that shoppers can expect to see in the inaugural collection?

Superbalist Trend Director, Anja Joubert, touches on a few, “I think the biggest influence has been the strong and slightly retro colour palette. There’s a big shift into the rust, ochre, rich browns and neutrals tones like stone, whether it’s summer or winter. As we move into more seasonless dressing, those old ‘rules’ don’t really apply anymore.

“Pattern is also looking exciting this season; animal has taken over into all silhouettes and tie-dye makes a sophisticated comeback. Within themes utility, retro undertones and a return to smarter dressing specifically are replacing the prior dominance of athleisure. There is a real ease and effortlessness when it comes to dressing and silhouettes, especially dresses.

Joubert says that the main source of the collection is to embody the values and attitude that Superbalist represents. “We’re building a clothing brand from scratch, which is exciting, not without its challenges obviously, but the next natural step for us. We have an amazing team of people and what gives us our edge is that we’re agile as a company and value being able to react quickly. Everyone is very hands on, and the attitude is one of trying something new and being inventive as opposed to ‘this is the way we’ve always been doing things’.

It’s a very dynamic space to be in and that’s great for creativity and pushing things forward.”

Superbalist the label launched on 4 June 2019. All For Women

Mr Price rethinks international strategy after leaving Australia

By Nick Hedley

Mr Price Group’s new CEO wants the retailer to take a new approach to offshore growth after the group pulled the plug on its fledgling Australian business and as it considers doing the same in Poland.

The clothing, sportswear and homeware goods retailer has, until now, preferred to take an organic but circumspect approach when entering new markets outside Africa. In 2003, it closed six test stores in Chile. In April, it decided to walk away from its Australian experiment, which was not generating healthy enough margins, said Mark Blair, who took over as group CEO in January.

Mr Price is also “having a hard look at Poland right now” to determine whether it makes sense to keep trying in that market, which it entered in 2018 under the watch of then-CEO Stuart Bird.

A number of SA firms, including landlords, have turned to the Polish market in recent years in search of growth. While some have found success, private hospital group Life Healthcare also said this week that it is reviewing its operations in the country.

Blair said Mr Price has previously entered foreign markets on an organic basis — with limited local expertise and infrastructure. That strategy “has proven challenging and distracting”. In the future, it would more likely enter markets via partnerships through which it can put its large cash pile to use.

At the end of March, Mr Price had cash and cash equivalents worth R3.2bn on its books, its financial statements show, but Blair said Mr Price does not want a deal that would require hefty debt funding.

He revealed that the group had made an offer for an offshore operator several years ago, but walked away from the deal as it was overvalued. It evaluated another recently but shied away from that one too.

Mr Price will not “take the beaten path” by buying assets that are in the market and in demand, or that offer “scale for the sake of scale”. It would prefer to invest in smaller businesses with growth potential, Blair said.

For now, Mr Price’s international business, including other African markets, remains relatively small — SA still contributes 91.9% of sales.

The group’s shares surged 9.8% to R194.96 after it said total revenue grew 5.8% to R22.6bn in the year to end-March. Retail sales increased by 4.4%, or 1.6% on a comparable-stores basis, to R20.9bn.

Headline earnings per share rose 6.2% and the company raised its dividend per share by the same quantum, to 736.2c.

Blair said SA’s national election result was “generally favourable”.

“Hopefully this could be the start of an upward swing in the retail cycle, but any improvements are expected to be gradual and we are therefore anticipating a very tough first half of the new financial year,” Blair said. “The second half should see an improvement due to the base effect and impact of internal initiatives coming through.”

Meanwhile, Blair said Mr Price is reconsidering whether it wants to be in Nigeria following an external review of those operations. The market is tough given difficulties with the repatriation of funds and local procurement. Business Live

Jumia Technologies hopes NYSE listing will show appeal of African tech

From its establishment in 2012, Jumia was conceived as a pan-African, e-commerce platform and it has been dubbed an “African Amazon”.

Jumia Technologies AG became the first African tech company to list on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) this spring, raising $196 million in its initial public offering.

Earlier, in 2016, the tech start-up became the first African tech unicorn, valued at $1 billion after a funding round that included Goldman Sachs, AXA and MTN, the South African telecommunications giant. Since its listing on April 12 at $25.46 a share, Jumia’s stock has been on a roller-coaster, hitting a high of $49.77 the day after the IPO but falling as low as $18.13 in early May. The shares were trading at $23.98 at midday on Monday.

From its establishment in 2012, Jumia was conceived as a pan-African e-commerce platform. It has since been dubbed an “African Amazon” and its online offerings encompass everything from electronics and gaming to fashion, health and beauty and even grocery items.

Jumia is active in 14 African countries, with more than 81,000 active sellers transacting online with millions of consumers.

Although the tech company is headquartered in Germany, “make no mistake about it, Jumia is definitely an African company as we only operate in Africa,” stressed Sascha Breuss, chief executive officer of Zando, the South African arm of Jumia. The company has invested heavily in tackling major infrastructure challenges, including investing in logistics, delivery and tech. “While we have international shareholders — like many other companies — the vast majority of our 5,000 employees are locals, including the country leads. In South Africa, for example, we directly and indirectly employ around 330 people — 327 of these are South African, which equals to 99.1 percent,” he said.

Listing on the NYSE was a logical choice, said Jumia cofounders and co-ceos Sacha Poignonnec and Jeremy Hodara. “This is the largest stock exchange in the world; many technology companies are listed on the NYSE, such as Alibaba, Twitter and Snap. By joining the NYSE and by being the first African technology company to do so, we want to showcase the digital innovation happening in Africa and the opportunities there in terms of tech and e-commerce.”

Breuss added that there were also certain realities to consider. “Most international investors have challenges when they try to push money to Sub-Saharan African countries as investment. So they’re more comfortable with investing in companies incorporated in Europe, the U.S. or markets they’re more familiar with.”

The NYSE listing, he said, “is also a strong statement that African companies are able to play in the same league as the big U.S. tech companies that are listed on the NYSE and have become household brands.”

The listing was significant, too, from a trust perspective, Juliet Amannah, ceo of Jumia Nigeria, pointed out. Jumia Nigeria is the biggest online mall and number-one e-commerce web site in Nigeria, offering over 50,000 international and local brands to over four million subscribers.

“When someone says, ‘I don’t know if I can shop online,’ or ‘I don’t know how to shop online,’ or, ‘I don’t know if I can trust the quality of the products online,’ now we can say that Jumia is a public entity, not just a small private company anymore. This is now a company that is obligated to comply with the most stringent standards of compliance that is required of a company listed on the NYSE,” she said.

Breuss echoed her sentiments. “Being listed on the NYSE will certainly help us to build even more trust with consumers, in particular those who are still not comfortable with e-commerce. They may now see us as an established company, and we hope this will help our growth and consumer adoption.”

Yet Internet penetration in Nigeria, as with South Africa, still has room to grow. Out of a population of over 200 million, according to 2019 estimates by Internet World Stats, Internet penetration was 55.5 percent as of March 2019. In South Africa, out of a population of 58 million, there are 31 million Internet users, or an Internet penetration rate of 53.7 percent. Kenya, where the population is 52 million, has Internet penetration of 83 percent, whereas in Ghana, whose population is 30 million, it is 33 percent, closer to the African continent’s average of 35.9 percent.

Smartphones, by and large, are how Africans access the Internet. A 2018 Pew Research Center report puts sub-Saharan Africa’s smartphone penetration at 33 percent, an increase from the 15 percent recorded in 2014. At 51 percent, “South Africa is the only country in the region where at least half the population is online,” said the report.

“The number of people connected to the Internet is likely to continue to rise, too; industry projections suggest that the smartphone adoption rate in sub-Saharan Africa will double by 2025,” the study said.

Both Breuss and Amannah are confident about growth in the region with regard to mobile connectivity and e-commerce consumer growth.

“We believe that a solid foundation has been laid for customers to shop online,” said Breuss. “Taking the example of South Africa, we have more than 800 brands online and offer more than 50,000 different products at the best prices in the market. On top of this we offer fast, secure and free delivery — yet only a fraction of the market has actually shopped with us, even though 87 percent of our shoppers would recommend Zando to their friends and family.”

“The online infrastructure is there. The real barriers are mental,” said Amannah. “There is just that gradual mental shift needed to shop online. You see, when people shop online at Jumia, they love it; 90 percent of our shoppers would recommend Jumia. But it’s getting those who haven’t tried it yet to try it.”

The conversion of Internet users to the Jumia e-commerce platforms throughout Africa is a priority for the company. Noted Poignonnec and Hodara: “The NYSE listing shows that innovation is happening in the African continent. It shows an innovative, dynamic and modern Africa. We really believe that funds can help us to invest more on our operations, hiring more staff to be part of our team and developing the adoption of e-commerce.”

Did you know……..

The Big Four Fashion Weeks are Milan, London, Paris and New York.

Valentino Garavani, a famous Italian fashion designer, takes his five precious pugs everywhere with him

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