A Consortium headed by pioneering empowerment personality (and former trade union stalwart) Marcel Golding appears to have sewn up control of iconic Cape Town company Rex Trueform, which owns the Queenspark fashion retailing chain.
A notice issued to RexTru shareholders shows that Golding – a co-founder of Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI) - and consortium partner Hugh Roberts have acquired large parcel of shares in RextTru and its parent company African & Overseas Enterprises from the Shub family.
The Shub family – like the Ackermans (Pick n’ Pay), Ruperts (Remgro) and Jowells (Trencor) – have controlled Rextru for decades. RexTru was initially founded in the late thirties as Salt River-based clothing manufacturer, which later found a lifeline in retailing after opening a factory shop in the late eighties.
The last of the clothing manufacturing operations were close more than 10 years ago. Catherine Radowsky, the daughter of the late Stewart Shub, currently serves as CEO of RexTru and has managed to cautiously roll-out a chain of Queenspark stores mainly in South Africa and selected African centres.
But the latest share dealings seem to suggest that the Shub family is capitulating effective control of RexTru in favour of Golding and Roberts. The Shubs have sold – via the Stewart and Pat Shub family Trust, - Catherine Radowsky, Andrew Shub and Patricia Shub - 726 600 ordinary and 604 045 N-shares in African and Overseas Enterprises shares as well smaller parcel of RexTru shares for about R65m.
The shares considerably bolster the position of the Golding consortium, which around two years ago bought into RexTru when it acquired a frustrated empowerment group Brimstone’s shareholding.
Reports in the financial press suggest Brimstone had tried unsuccessfully to convince the Shub family to adopt a more adventurous operational strategy – including adding or acquiring new trading formats to complement the core Queenspark offering.
The sale of the Shub family shares comes at a difficult junction for Queenspark, the main operating asset owned by Rextru. A recent trading statement showed December 2016, Rextru indicated that Queenspark remained under severe pressure during the second half of the financial year.
For the full year to end June RexTru’s earnings are expected to decrease by at least 65% - a performance that is considerably shabbier than the company’s larger rivals like Mr Price, Pepkor, Truworths and The Foschini Group.
The exact nature of the Golding consortium’s strategic plans for RexTru have not yet been revealed – although rumours suggest an effort to diversify the current retail offering is almost certainly on the cards.
There has even been talk of reconstituting RexTru and African & Overseas Enterprises as an empowerment investment company with a diverse investment portfolio. While the trading conditions are tough for RexTru, the company has a strong balance sheet with a sizeable cash balance as well as valuable properties that it has re-developed in the increasingly vibrant Salt River node.