Steinhoff the elephant in the room at Mr Tekkie store launch

No matter what happens, it matters how you react.

This was the message coming from Bernard Mostert, CEO of Mr Tekkie, at the store's launch in the Cape Town CBD on Thursday evening.

Two other stores - one in Acornhoek, Mpumalanga, and one in Bloemfontein - opened earlier this week.

"One year ago none of us thought we would be at this stage. It is rewarding to see so many friends of our business here tonight," Mostert said.

At the same time, he said it was impossible to ignore the "elephant in the room", namely Steinhoff.

Elephant in the room

The then-partners in Tekkie Town sold the latter to Steinhoff in 2016, and it currently forms part of Steinhoff's subsidiary, Pepkor. The former Tekkie Town partners are challenging the Steinhoff transaction since the latter acknowledged accounting irregularities in its financial reports. These reports had formed the basis of the disposal of Tekkie Town to Steinhoff, according to the former Tekkie Town partners.
Tekkie Town has about 381 stores countrywide, and there are currently several legal battles relating to the Tekkie Town, Mr Tekkie businesses; as well as to Steinhoff's purchase of Tekkie Town.

Once such case is a restraint of trade application by Pepkor after the former Tekkie Town owners decided to launch Mr Tekkie. It is alleged that so far, about R195m has been invested in the new venture. Pepkor also brought an application requesting that the court order the name Mr Tekkie not to be used.

The former Tekkie Town owners, in turn, have brought a case against Steinhoff in relation to the 2016 sale of Tekkie Town to Steinhoff International Holdings. Tekkie Town is now part of Steinhoff’s subsidiary Pepkor, formerly known as Steinhoff Africa Retail (STAR).

'Only one option'

"It has been an interesting experience for us. It is sad, but it has left us only one option," said Mostert.

"Two months ago, there were no suppliers, no legal entity. Within two months we have something alongside the business we lost, and we think we will get that business back and the two can stand side by side. We are grateful for the loyalty of the people who supported us, even when they were told not to."

Mostert thanked Braam van Huyssteen, founder of Tekkie Town and now part of the Mr Tekkie venture, for his part in developments after the impact of the Steinhoff collapse on the deal.

"You, more than anyone else, could have walked away from the (Steinhoff) 'air crash' and raced your horses and spent time with your family," Mostert told Van Huyssteen.

"So, thanks that, when catastrophe struck, you huddled around us and said: 'let us just move on together'."


Van Huyssteen, in turn, said it was a privilege to be part of "a miracle".

"We are starting over again with Mr Tekkie, and hope to have Tekkie Town back as well in two years' time. It is an auspicious event for us tonight."

Six of Mr Tekkie's senior legal counsel were present at the launch.

Van Huyssteen joked that when he is in consultation with his legal counsel and someone wants to tell a joke, he normally says "please don't, because the time spent to tell the joke will cost me R40 000."

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