Tekkie Town CEO Bernard Mostert resigns after walk-out

Steinhoff Africa Retail (STAR) on Tuesday confirmed the resignation of Tekkie Town CEO Bernard Mostert and other senior members of management.

STAR [JSE:SRR] found itself in a tight knot as leadership and staff in its subsidiary Tekkie Town staged a walk-out on Monday.

Fin24 has learned that two senior bosses of Tekkie Town, and as many as 100 staff members, staged a walk-out in the latest development involving an impasse between STAR bosses and Tekkie Town’s founder and former STAR Property Division chair Braam van Huyssteen, who resigned from this position last month.

Mostert confirmed to Fin24 that he resigned from his position, adding that the higher-ups made his position and the continued growth of the business untenable.

"Myself and the COO have been in partnership in that business for a long time.

"We have reached a point where it has been impossible for us to achieve the desired results for the business in a meaningful way, because of the actions of people at STAR due to the treatment of Mr Van Huyssteen and ourselves," said Mostert.

STAR, which is in the process of changing its name to Pepkor Holdings, is the JSE-listed company that contains Steinhoff's African retail assets, including the shoe retailer.

Tekkie Town was bought by Steinhoff International in late 2016. It was later transferred to STAR.

Legal remedies 

Mostert said he and his associates would be exploring legal remedies to the impasse with STAR, as even their best efforts to resolve the matter amicably were undermined.

"We worked very hard to find a form of mediation that would allow for Braam to be honoured and to use his unique skills.

"We ultimately saw that because of the personal hatred others had towards him that nothing we would put on the table would be honoured," Mostert said.

Earlier this month, STAR was issued a summons from Tekkie Town. The summons involved notice of a claim lodged by Van Huyssteen, the founders and original shareholders of Tekkie Town around a disputed earn-out agreement. 

Tekkie Town operates 368 stores within STAR’s total retail footprint of more than 5 100 stores, and contributes approximately 3% to STAR’s consolidated annual revenue, according to a statement from the company.

STAR, in a statement on Thursday afternoon, confirmed the resignation of Mostert and certain other senior members of management, with immediate effect.

The retail group said it had deployed an interim management team led by Operational Director at Ackermans Riaan van Rooyen.

"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. Tekkie Town will continue operating business as usual,” read the statement. 

STAR shares were down 2.48% to trade at R16.94 on the JSE at 15:19. 

* Correction: This article originally referred to Stella Wink as the spokesperson for STAR. This is incorrect and the article has been updated to reflect this. 

* Update: This article was updated at 15:25 to provide more background around Tekkie Town's acquisition by Steinhoff International, and include STAR's share price.    

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