Pepkor: 500-plus stores looted and damaged, but most will reopen in September

JSE-listed clothing retail giant Pepkor now says more that 500 of its stores in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng were looted and damaged during the riots in July.

But more than 350 of these stores are expected to be “up and running by the end of September”.


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The group said in an emailed update on Wednesday that it is making “significant strides in its recovery of affected operations since the civil unrest experienced last month”.

In a previous Sens update issued in mid-July, the group originally noted that around 489 stores were affected.

Read: The scale of the destruction

It said the affected stores that “experienced varying degrees of damage” represents around 10% of the group’s overall store footprint.

“The business has turned its focus and commitment to the rebuilding of their stores in the affected areas and is proud to be part of these efforts where the mutual support and resilience of South Africans are so well exhibited,” Pepkor added in its latest statement.

“The initial assessment phase has been completed and we are working with multiple suppliers to secure the necessary stock, equipment, IT infrastructure and other materials to reopen our stores,” said Pepkor CEO Leon Lourens.

“During a normal year, we open 300 new stores. Now, added to our standard new store opening schedule, we are reopening more than 350 stores in approximately two months with the remainder of the stores to be opened before December,” Lourens pointed out.

“The reopening of the remaining stores will be delayed due to circumstances outside our control such as structural damages to the properties,” he added.

“The teams in our operating companies are working around the clock to make this happen as quickly as possible. Our primary objective is to get back to serving the customers in these communities and making their lives easier and better.”

Read: Over 200 Shoprite group stores looted

Pepkor pointed out that its supply chain is now fully operational and deliveries to its footprint of more than 5 000 stores are back to normal.

“It is pleasing to see that our supply chain is back at full capacity and credit goes to our internal recovery teams who have worked tirelessly to make this possible,” said Lourens.

As part of Pepkor’s recovery efforts, the group noted that it is doing its best to provide job security and continue salary payments to the thousands of employees who were impacted.

“We were able to get emergency relief to our employees within one week of the unrest. This included delivery of 5 667 food parcels and I am extremely grateful that we have the means to assist our loyal employees so that they can provide for their families,” said Lourens.

Read: TFG: 198 looted and damaged stores remain closed

“As a business whose key priority is to serve their millions of loyal customers and make a positive difference in their lives, we accept our responsibility towards the local communities and more than R3.5 million has been donated to support affected employees and surrounding communities, including a donation of 70 tonnes of maize meal,” he added.

“It is our courageous, agile and resilient teams who have played a fundamental role in our recovery and rebuilding process during this challenging time. The long hours and commitment these individuals have shown demonstrates the calibre of our people and the healthy culture of our business,” said Lourens.

Pepkor, which employs 50 000 people and has the largest retail store footprint in southern Africa with more than 5 000 stores, was the worst affected clothing retailer in terms of number of store affected in the recent unrest.