Game re-enters the highly contested cheap clothing market

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It's official: Game stores will ditch food for clothing as it launches the Stylessentials range on Friday.
It's official: Game stores will ditch food for clothing as it launches the Stylessentials range on Friday.
Gallo Images/Papi Morake
  • Game will launch a clothing range called Stylessentials, in 22 stores across the country on Friday, 14 August.
  • The range will be available in all 122 stores across South Africa by July 2021.
  • As part of Massmart's turnaround strategy, Stylessentials will replace Game’s Fresh and Frozen food offering.

As part of Massmart's turnaround plan, Game will launch its essential clothing range on Friday.

The retail giant announced in January, just before it shocked the market with a R1 billion loss for the 2019 financial year, that it would also be shaking up Game Stores.

After just announcing its plans to close its DionWired brand, Massmart said Game will exit the poor performing fresh food offering and bring back cheap clothing instead.  

On Thursday, Game said it will be launching a "Stylessentials" clothing range in 22 stores across the country on Friday, 14 August. The retail brand said the cheap clothing category made sense as customers are actively seeking value alternatives for essential items like clothing amidst turbulent economic times.

Gap in the market

"We have identified a gap in the market for seasonally-relevant casual wear that is designed with the South African consumer in mind – and have taken into account customer feedback and market trends in this regard," said Andrew Stein, vice president for Game.

Stein added that the new clothing range will cater for all sizes and will focus on providing comfort. It will feature casual wear basics and athleisure, while the children’s range will feature movie and cartoon character clothing, among other things. Games' move to comfort and athleisure is well timed as analysts have been predicting that clothing retailers with heavy focus on this segment will emerge as winners in a world where working from home has seen more people ditch their suits and winter coats for trackpants and hoodies.

But it's not just about casual wear bias. Pepkor CEO Leon Lourens also told Fin24, after the release of the company's interim results, that discount and value clothing segments will become even more defensive in the era of Covid-19 as cash-strapped consumers will consider affordability of prices more now. Because of this, Pepkor expected to take market share from other players through its Ackermans and Pep brands. "Those value brands are perfectly placed for this new environment or the new economy," he said at the time.

Game said on Thursday that Deloitte’s Consumer insights pre- and during lockdown report also found that customers are more price conscious in the current environment.

Other retailers are also well aware of this. So, Game is entering a space where competitive efforts are rising among retailers serving the segment.

Pick n Pay Clothing has also stepped up its game in this segment, launching an online store earlier this month. The retailer went on to launch a wallet-conscious designer range with clothing items that cost no more than R400. The Foschini Group CEO Anthony Thunström also said during the presentation of the group's annual results in June that the retailer would be paying more attention to its casual wear brand, The Fix.

The retailer said the Stylessentials will replace Game’s Fresh and Frozen food offering and will be available in all 122 stores across South Africa by July 2021. Currently, it is available in store only but Game is looking into the possibility of expanding the range to be part of its online offering in future.

Game said 90% of its clothing range will be sourced from local suppliers with about 25% of the range locally manufactured to ensure that it appeals to South African consumers.

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