Yuppiechef launches Johannesburg stores

Kitchen and homeware retailer Yuppiechef celebrated the opening of two new stores in Johannesburg, on the same day. The six-time winner of the South African eCommerce awards and relative newcomer to the world of physical retail, Yuppiechef opened its doors in both Sandton City and Mall of Africa on Friday, 28th June 2019.

Yuppiechef CEO, Andrew Smith, says that the two Johannesburg stores represent a new era for the award-winning brand. “Since the launch of our first physical store two years ago, and with four Cape Town branches now thriving, we’ve always had Joburg customers asking us when their turn was coming, and now we’ve opened two at once. We’ve found the right locations in two world-class centres, in Sandton City and Mall of Africa, and we’re thrilled to finally see our brand brought to life in Gauteng.”

Yuppiechef has pioneered the concept of omnichannel retail in South Africa and Smith says that the vision for Yuppiechef in Johannesburg is no different. “We’re hoping that our customers in Gauteng will see us as Yuppiechef – not an online store, or a shop they pass in their local mall – but rather a single retail brand that they can choose to interact with on their terms, wherever and whenever they feel like it.”

The two new Yuppiechef stores will carry a selection of the products available on yuppiechef.com, but should an item not be available in the store, customers can order it while visiting the store and have it delivered to their preferred address. “Through the combination of our online and physical stores our customers have access to a much broader range, bigger than any single store offering,” says Smith.

The Johannesburg stores will follow the design principles of the other four Yuppiechef stores with an industrial feel and premium features including the iconic wooden panelling and engineered quartz countertops. The stores boast a “no queue” point-of-sale system which means that customers can pay for their basket of items at any position in the store, aided by a store assistant.

Smith says he’s excited about the possibilities that the new stores present for Yuppiechef, “We want to reach as many people as we can, because ultimately, our belief is that quality kitchen tools and ingredients can change the way you feel about being in the kitchen and help you be a better cook – and that’s in our DNA across all of our channels.”

Yuppiechef was founded in 2006 by two good friends and only 32 products in a lounge in Plumstead, Cape Town. More than a decade later, our simple goal remains: To offer you the best kitchen and home products—and to be the very best at doing it. Yuppiechef emerged out of co-founder Shane Dryden’s love for cooking and cool kitchen tools.

Yuppiechef is South Africa’s premier kitchen and homeware store, stocking 700 of the world’s leading brands. From knives, cookware and appliances, to soft furnishings, craft beer and the finest food ingredients; we’ve tried, tested and sourced the best quality products we can find, for you: people who really care about cooking, entertaining and hosting at home.

Online shoppers value unique digital experiences

Online shoppers have little tolerance for ineffective or clunky purchasing experiences. Consumers expect reliable sites and easy ordering and fulfilment, in large part because of the elevated transactional experiences digital commerce leaders like Amazon, takealot.com and others have proven possible. Free shipping, shipping tracking and information about returns are the top three capabilities services online shoppers expect brands and retailers to offer.

Online shoppers seek out digital experiences that are on par with what is available from a physical retailer: zero fees for receiving a product, complete knowledge of when their purchase will arrive and access to no-fuss returns.

Now that there is an almost universal expectation for seamless experiences online, brands and retailers must push into experience-driven commerce territory to stand out. An emphasis on experience-driven commerce has not diminished the importance of factors like convenience, selection, search and price to shoppers. Rather, brands and retailers must master these capabilities to even earn shoppers’ consideration, and then go beyond them to differentiate from competitors.

Consumers go where they can receive the most seamless, memorable experience, not just the best price or delivery options. With standards for seamless transactions so high, content represents the key differentiator for brands and retailers to earn business.

Online shoppers may turn to popular marketplaces and retail giants for perks like low prices, but they appreciate how brands and retailers can offer memorable, educational content experiences. Personalised content experiences enable brands and retailers to really shine.

Regardless of where shoppers choose to engage a company, they should be able to trust the accuracy and completeness of the information they find. It’s clear that brands and retailers must approach content marketing with a clear strategy for scaling and delivering experiences that are relevant to shoppers’ personal needs.

Creating standout digital shopping experiences

While there has always been a natural uptick in how often people shop online, consumers’ digital habits have started to stabilise. Digital commerce will reach critical mass in 2019. This is according to Episerver’s “Reimagining Commerce” report, an in-depth look at the trends, tactics and technologies guiding brands and retailers in the age of experience-driven commerce.

In a survey of more than 4 500 global online shoppers, 26% of online consumers currently shop online at least weekly. This is just a small increase from last year’s report, which found that 23% of online consumers shop online at this frequency.

Bluegrass Digital CEO, Nick Durrant, points to the report and says the plateau effect in digital commerce leaves companies with a clear mandate to improve or get left behind. “The quality and diversity of digital commerce experiences play an even greater role in the struggle to stand out and earn customer loyalty.”

“To understand just how valuable innovative online shopping experiences are, consider today’s commerce environment. Leaders like Amazon have perfected seamless transactions, leaving fewer opportunities for differentiation via investments in this area,” he explains.

At the same time, traditional retailers are using technology to improve the customer experience and deliver new perks through sophisticated loyalty programs, bridging the online, in-store gap. The average shopper’s path to purchase is more complex than ever, filled with a wide variety of capabilities and attractions popularised by digital native brands.

Vying for consumers’ attention and wallet share will only grow more difficult as additional players enter the fray, further congesting an already crowded digital shopping ecosystem.

To get ahead, brands and retailers must implement dynamic, integrated content marketing and customer experience strategies that forge personal, emotional connections with shoppers beyond transactions.

Durrant says retailers need to look at the principles to achieve standout, experience-driven commerce that converts consumers into customers and buyers into brand advocates. “According to the survey, final purchases require guidance because only 20% of online consumers say all of their online purchases are pre-planned.”

Although seamless transactional experiences are the standard, online shoppers say the top three capabilities or features brands and retailers should support include free shipping, shipping tracking and information about returns.

“Even though 88% of online shoppers say it is the same or higher priority for brands and retailers to offer personalised experiences online in 2019 compared to 2018, 93% say it is the same or higher priority for companies to respect their anonymity online,” he adds.

It is also evident that digital commerce overwhelms consumers, nearly half of online shoppers have failed to complete a purchase online because there were too many options to choose from. Ten percent of online shoppers view an item five or more times before making an online purchase, adding to feelings of always-on commerce.

The survey also says ineffective content has major consequences: incorrect or incomplete content on a brand’s website or mobile app has stopped 98% of online shoppers from completing a purchase.

Social media has evolved into an established shopping channel, particularly for younger shoppers. Influencers are more important than ever  ̶  52% of online shoppers who use social media have clicked on an influencer’s post, according to the report, and a third of those shoppers (31%) have made a direct purchase from the post.

The report states that 21% of online shoppers aged 37 and under turn to social media for inspiration online when they do not have a product in mind for purchase, compared to just 5% of online shoppers aged 38 and older.

Durrant says according to the report, marketplaces are online shoppers’ top destination. “Online shoppers flock to marketplaces to start their online purchase journeys, whether they have a product in mind for purchase (46%) or not (39%).”

According to the report, voice-assisted shopping is most effective for repeat purchases. Voice is gradually becoming part of online shopping habits; more consumers are turning to voice for online shopping.

“Voice technology has also grown in popularity, 17% of online shoppers use voice devices to make purchases multiple times a month or more frequently, and 22% use the technology for research purposes in the same time frame,” he concludes.

The report, however, shows there is a preference for voice research over voice purchase. Brands and retailers should consider using voice to attract frequent shoppers for repeat purchases, while using traditional channels to build relationships with new customers or less frequent shoppers.

In conclusion, 43% of consumers cited a lack of security features as the number one reason they won’t make more purchases via voice-enabled devices. Difficulty searching for and comparing products were also cited as barriers to increased voice purchases.

About Bluegrass Digital (www.bluegrassdigital.com)

Bluegrass Digital is a leading provider of digital solutions for business. We simplify tech. We help you architect and build digital products and services, ensuring you transform and succeed in a digital world. With over 20 years of engineering experience and proven track record, Bluegrass Digital offers expert knowledge and its unique offering that is centred on service delivery excellence.

Canal Walk Shopping Centre launches social media brand campaign

Since their rise in popularity in the mid-20th century, shopping centres in this day and age tend to reflect the communities they serve; delivering on daily wants and needs, as well as acting as central meeting points for young and old. Understanding the social importance a shopping centre reserves within a community led Canal Walk Shopping Centre to launch its latest brand campaign, #CWSquad, spearheaded by three homegrown, Cape Town-based social media icons.

“Understanding our customer has always been of paramount importance to Canal Walk” explains Camilla Lor, regional marketing executive for Hyprop Investments Limited. “Being relevant to our customer within the societal context in which they live, work and play is key to our overall success, and so we turned to influential content creators within our very community to assist in delivering our brand message.”

Introducing the #CWSquad

The #CWSquad is made up of Nadia Jaftha, Aqeelah Harron Ally and Paula Lakay; three young ladies that will over the next year showcase the best Canal Walk has to offer across over 400 stores. When considering candidates for the campaign, it was important for Canal Walk’s marketing team that each squad member selected was not only already a friend of the brand, but also a greatly admired social media content creator offering their followers relevant and entertaining content.

“During the selection process, we naturally gravitated towards Jaftha, Harron Ally and Lakay because they effortlessly reflect who our customers are,” adds Lor. “From meeting friends for coffee and a catch up, doing a spot of wedding shopping, indulging in a shopping spree or two, grabbing a bite to eat or taking in a movie, Canal Walk has been part of these ladies’ lives every step of the way; as it has for so many of our customers.”

Over the next months, the #CWSquad will share with their followers everything from the season’s hottest lip colour, to where to find the best outfit for that special occasion, and anything and everything in between. “What makes the #CWSquad so impactful is not only are they respected and revered by their followers, but that they are genuine Canal Walk customers,” says Lor. “Customers no longer respond to disruptive, non-consumer centric content; they respond to recommendations from those they trust and admire.”

Meet the #CWSquad

Nadia Jaftha

Jaftha, known as the Content Queen by her fast-growing following, is always out and about creating hilarious pranking videos and relatable content. She has a charismatic, outgoing and vibrant personality, which captures her audiences on Instagram and YouTube.

Follow Nadia: Instagram | YouTube

Aqeelah Harron-Ally

The always elegant yet edgy Harron Ally is on the pulse of modest fashion styling and the latest beauty trends by means of her vlog. Along with her husband, Malick, she loves travelling the world and capturing their adventures. She is a total girl-boss, with a strong vision for her brand, Fashion Breed.

Follow Aqeelah: Instagram | YouTube

Paula Lakay

Most know her as Ms Paula Bee, through Instagram and her blog, but she recently got married to become Mrs Lakay. She is all about embracing and nurturing her gorgeous natural hair, as the Curl Queen, giving her followers beauty tips and tricks and capturing her life through vlogs.

Follow Paula: Instagram | YouTube

Plan of action

Month-by-month, Canal Walk will offer its shoppers a more in-depth look into each #CWSquad member’s life; highlighting their unique style by means of in-centre marketing touchpoints as well as via its direct marketing, and digital and social media platforms.

Canal Walk Shopping Centre is open from 09:00 to 21:00 seven days a week.

Social media and digital information for Canal Walk

Website www.canalwalk.co.za

CWSquad campaign information www.canalwalk.co.za/cwsquad

Facebook www.facebook.com/canalwalk

Instagram www.instagram.com/canalwalk

Twitter www.twitter.com/canal_walk

YouTube www.youtube.com/CanalWalkShopping

Hashtag #CWSquad

 

 

 

SA’s top 5 supermarket brands battle it out for the hearts and minds of South African consumers

In the war for the consumer’s share of wallet, South Africa’s top five supermarket brands will need to do much more to fully differentiate themselves on the many complex drivers of customer satisfaction.

The “South African Customer Satisfaction Index (SA-csi) for Supermarkets (2018)”, conducted by Consulta, provides highly scientific insights into the overall level of satisfaction of customers of South Africa’s big five supermarket brands: Woolworths, Pick ‘n Pay, Spar, Checkers and Shoprite.

While Woolworths maintained the best overall customer experience in the 2018 supermarkets index, it was with a decrease in overall score from 2016, while the differentiation is increasingly eroded between the top performing brands. The gap between Woolworths and the rest of the supermarkets measured is now too small to give Woolworths the outright best-in-category classification that they enjoyed before.

Focussed strategic planning and implementation by Spar since 2014 on convenience location, freshly prepared foods and customer engagement are paying dividends, with Spar enjoying significant and consistent year-on-year improvements in almost all measures of customer satisfaction.

The latest SA-csi for supermarkets clearly shows the increasing complexity faced by supermarket brands in meeting customer expectations. As South Africa heads into an environment of extreme economic pressure, retailers will need to invest in understanding how such an environment impacts consumer behaviour, and how they will create exceptional experiences for their customers.

The SA-csi is a causal model that links customer expectations, perceived quality and perceived value to customer satisfaction (the SA-csi score), which in turn is linked to customer complaints (and recovery) and customer loyalty intentions. The 2018 sample for the SA-csi for supermarkets included 1 619 customers who were randomly selected to participate in the independent survey which measures customers’ overall satisfaction and includes a customer expectations index, a perceived quality index and a perceived value index.

Highlights from the 2018 SA-csi for supermarkets in a nutshell:

  • On meeting customer expectations: Industry expectations for supermarkets have increased from the previous measure in 2016. All brands are meeting customer expectations. Woolworths, albeit with a decrease in score from 2016 to 2018, and Spar are leaders in this regard.
  • On perceived value: which measures how much value customers feel they received for the price paid against the quality of the experience, Checkers comes out as the leader, although Spar was the only brand that showed a marked increase in its perceived value score from 2016. It is notable that Woolworths struggles with this aspect of their value proposition and is driving the perception of being the most expensive supermarket brand.
  • Complaints handling: in general, the supermarkets category of the SA-csi performs well on the degree to which complaints are handled by comparison to world standards (close to 50%). Checkers performed best at handling complaints while Shoprite was rated lowest. Pick ‘n Pay recorded the most customer complaints specifically about expired food, incorrect shelf prices and its Smart Shopper loyalty card. All brands experienced an increase in complaints while complaints handling and recovery showed a decline across the board  ̶  complaints handling scores have a direct correlation to customer loyalty.
  • Customer loyalty: Shoprite had the lowest customer loyalty score and a marked decrease in its score from 2016. Woolworth has the highest loyalty score with a marginal increase from 2016 and is indicative of the strong brand equity that Woolworths still enjoys. Woolworths outperforms the industry average on net promoter score (NPS) at 46,8%, which measures the likelihood of a person recommending a brand, while Pick ‘n Pay has the lowest NPS score which also falls well below the industry average. Spar and Checkers are the only brands that have shown an improvement in NPS scores from the 2016 measurement.
  • Best overall customer experience: Woolworths maintained the best overall customer experience albeit with a decrease in score from 2016. The smaller leader gap between Woolworths and the rest of the supermarket brands is likely to put pressure on the customer loyalty and NPS scores for Woolworths in future. Checkers and Spar both scored on par with the industry, while experiencing solid increases in their overall customer satisfaction scores compared to 2016, with Spar showing the biggest improvement. Shoprite had the lowest  overall customer satisfaction score, well below industry average.

“While there were top performers in each of the measures of customer satisfaction, there were no outright winners who performed best across all categories and who are successfully managing all facets of customer satisfaction. Similarly, while brands may have maintained their lead in certain measures, they have done so with decreasing scores when compared with previous years. It’s clear that competitors are using the Sa-csi data to up the ante on previous shortcomings – evident in a number of significant score improvements – while previous leaders may have been lulled into complacency or suffered reputational setbacks which have impacted their performance and customer perceptions. Scores well below par or in a seemingly stagnant state should be cause for intervention if retailers are to maintain profitability in an increasingly competitive environment where consumers are quick to vote with their wallets and shift loyalty when dissatisfied,” explains Professor Adré Schreuder, SA-csi founder and chairperson.

In a time when extreme economic pressure and the accelerating rate of technological developments are significantly influencing how consumers and shoppers behave, customer satisfaction is a big deal, while getting it right is complex and multi-faceted.

“We have come a very long way from when all it took was some customer service from efficient and friendly staff to do the job.  The context of retail has evolved rapidly to extend across bricks and mortar experience to online and digital presence, while consumer drivers such as value, time, experience, healthy eating and ethical living are all culminating in a continuum of disconnect between shopper expectations and the retailer’s ability to satisfy them,” concludes Prof Schreuder.

Key take-outs based on the findings:

  • In tough economic times which South African consumers are currently experiencing, the price of goods is likely to influence consumer loyalty even though they are satisfied customers. It is important to note that price-motivated loyalty is not permanent, so while customers may display less brand loyalty now, supermarkets cannot afford to stop investing in positive shopping experiences.
  • While Woolworths had the advantage of differentiation in the past in terms of instore design, experience and packaging which appealed to the upper end of the market, competitors have made significant headway in this regard. Woolworths have failed to innovate in the instore experience, while Checkers has made dramatic improvements to instore presence as well as packaging. For many consumers, there has been a shift where consumers believe that they can now get equivalent quality, at lower cost.
  • Spar’s sustained focus on community involvement and a key strategic emphasis on convenience location since 2014 are bearing fruit. Spar has focused on getting the basics right and ensuring that they are able to deliver on being in-stock of every product, every day, making it the go-to for a convenient stop to get the daily incidentals which remains a key driver of consumer behaviour. South African consumers are facing an increasingly stressful, time-starved lifestyle which has created a burgeoning demand for convenient solutions that can help simplify their lives.

As a strategic tool for gauging the competitiveness of individual firms and predicting future profitability, an organisation’s customer satisfaction performance, as measured by the SA-csi methodology, provides a predictive indication of how well the firm will perform in terms of future revenue and earnings growth.

Founded by marketing research doyen and customer satisfaction expert, Prof Adré Schreuder, and supported by both academia and industry, the SA-csi is the first independent, comprehensive national customer satisfaction index with international comparability in South Africa and has collected data from more than 400 000 consumers since its inception in 2012. It produces scientifically robust and independent customer satisfaction benchmarks for a multitude of companies, industries and economic sectors, which together represent a broad swath of the South African national economy. The SA-csi forms part of a global network of research groups, quality associations and universities that have adopted the methodology of the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) via its international licensing program called Global CSISM.

About the “South African Customer Satisfaction Index” (SA-csi)

The SA-csi forms part of a global network of research groups, quality associations, and universities that have adopted the methodology of the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) via ACSI’s international licensing program called Global CSISM.

Developed by Prof Claes Fornell at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, the Index uses customer interviews as inputs to a multi-equation econometric model. The SA-csi methodology is distinguished from other measures of quality by four significant characteristics:

 

  • ACSI uses a cause-and-effect model that measures satisfaction quantitatively as the result of survey-measured input of customer expectations, perceptions of quality, and perceptions of value (ie quality for cost).
  • The ACSI model links satisfaction quantitatively with customer-survey-measured outcomes: complaints (a negative outcome) and loyalty (a positive outcome).
  • ACSI has a uniform, customer-based definition of quality: “Customer satisfaction with the quality of goods and services consumed.”
  • ACSI treats satisfaction with quality as a cumulative experience, rather than a most recent transaction
  • The 2018 SA-csi benchmarks customer satisfaction using an internationally-recognised model to achieve an overall result out of 100. It provides a weighted average of various aspects of a customer’s experience with the brand, the degree to which the product or service has met, fallen short of, or exceeded their expectations, and how well it compares to the respondents’ anticipation of their experience.
  • Customer expectation refers to the total perceived benefits a customer expects from a company’s product or service. If the actual experience customers have with a brand exceeds the expectation, they are typically satisfied.
  • One of the ways South African consumers can contribute to the SA-csi measurement is by joining Consulta’s propriety research community, ConsultaPanel. ConsultaPanel allows the general consumer a safe but true community platform to contribute to the total offering of day-to-day consumer products and services, by voicing their opinion and participate in our research activities.

 

Methodology

  • The index represents a weighted average of a range of facets related to customer satisfaction. Consulta, the independent consulting company that compiled the index, surveyed 1 619 randomly selected customers of the biggest supermarket chains in South Africa – including Checkers, Pick n Pay, Shoprite, Spar and Woolworths.
  • The research is conducted independently, without sponsorship from any of the entities, and offers impartial insights into South African supermarkets. The 2018 SA-csi for Supermarkets benchmarks and blends a customer expectations ndex, perceived quality Index and a perceived value Index to achieve an overall result out of 100.
  • The SA-csi provides a weighted average of the various aspects of a customer’s experience with the brand, the degree to which the product or service has met, fallen short of, or exceeded their expectations, and how well it compares to the respondents’ ideal of what they anticipate their experience to be.

 

 

 

 

 

Three consumer trends shaping the packaging and printing market in 2019

 

Trend #1: Smarter choices with existing packaging options

“In 2018 we experienced unprecedented fuel hikes, a technical recession as well as a VAT hike. These costs are being passed onto the consumer as goods and products become more expensive, and the cost of living escalates. Yet, at the same time, consumers are demanding more from packaging, such as more sustainable and waste reduction options,” says Stewart.

A study conducted in 2018 by EcoFocus Worldwide found that grocery shoppers in 2018 have greater expectations of packaging than ever before – especially when it relates to healthy food and beverages. Consumers were demanding not only clean labels and food products, but also clean packaging.

Stewart says that while consumer concerns regarding reducing waste may drive new opportunities in the packaging space, many sustainable and waste reducing packaging alternatives are still in infant stages in South Africa; while those that do exist are more expensive to produce. The bulk of these costs are passed back to the consumer in the form of higher priced goods. This presents a catch-22 for consumers who are both cost-conscious and want their packaging to align to their environmentally-aware lifestyles.

“Consumers will need to make smarter choices when it comes to packaging. Take the plastic bag for example. Research by the Environmental Policy Research Unit at the University of Cape Town suggests that South Africans use about eight billion plastic bags annually. This means that plastic won’t be disappearing anytime soon,” says Stewart.

A smarter choice could be to use a 100% recyclable plastic bag.

ITB Plastics, a division of Novus Holdings, has produced a 100% recyclable LLD plastic bag that is also washable. This bag is made with recycled material; is thicker than an ordinary plastic grocery bag (a sturdier product with added strength – robust for carrying up to 20 kg) and; it can be used up to 200 times (before being handed in for responsible recycling). It can also carry frozen and wet products without disintegrating. It is also cheaper than cloth bags.

“It is up to us to use plastic bags responsibly rather than discarding it where it will end up as pollution. Using a plastic bag as a bin liner is one way that will allow it to enter the waste stream, where it is easily retrieved by recyclers.”

Trend #2: Convenience drives the need for more flexible packaging

According to research by consulting firm Deloitte, the global flexible packaging market is expected to grow by 5,2% annually through 2022 due to the very many benefits that this packaging offers such as aesthetic appeal, longer shelf life, lower weight and ease of use. This finding is echoed by LEK Consulting, a global management firm that in 2018 surveyed 200-plus brand managers who identified the increased need for flexible packaging.

“Consumers continue to have a great need for convenience solutions that can also guarantee the freshness of products, which is driving the growing trend for flexible packaging such as pouches and bags,” says Stewart.

Trend #3: More designer, personalised packaging and printing

Stewart says that more and more consumers are looking for personalised, bespoke options when it comes to labels, packaging and printed material.

“The trend toward mass personalisation is being driven by the advent of targeted online content, putting consumers in the driver’s seat. Consumers want something unique to them. Social media, the advent of digital content and how users interact with it have changed the type of experiences that people want.”

At the end of 2019 Novus Holdings launched a limited edition, bespoke gift wrap conceptualised by SA musician Jimmy Nevis to capitalise on the trend of consumers’ need for unique goods.

“In addition, we have seen that the humble label is being used as an extension of companies’ marketing efforts. Personalised labelling – the trend that sees brand owners and consumers personalise a label with a message or an image – will continue to gain traction in 2019,” concludes Stewart.

About Novus Holdings:

Previously known as the Paarl Media Group, Novus Holdings Limited services South Africa and the African continent through its print production of all short to long run requirements of educational materials, magazines, retail inserts, catalogues, books, newspapers, commercial work, as well as security and digital printing.

Novus Holdings is committed to making a sustainable difference in the communities in which it operates, as well as driving skills development and transformation within the industry.

 

 

 

 

HomeChoice makes progress in difficult retail environment

HomeChoice International PLC, the leading participant in southern Africa’s retail homewares and financial services sectors to the expanding urban middle-income mass market, announced steady growth despite a tough second half for the year ended 31 December 2018. Revenue increased by 8,5%, and headline earnings per share remained largely unaltered from the previous year, at 507,7 cents. The group declared total dividends for the year of 194,0 cents per share, up 1,6%.

Chief executive officer South Africa, Shirley Maltz, commented: “Notwithstanding the challenging retail environment, we are seeing the benefit of our continuous investment into improving our customer experience and accelerating our digital transformation, which are both key strategic focus areas for the group. Credit extended via digital channels increased by 43,9% to R1,6 billion.”

Maltz expanded: “Another highlight for us is that the group continues to attract more than 20 000 new customers monthly, attracted by our curated product offers. The group’s active customer base increased by 10,0% this year.”

Capital expenditure, at R126 million, has increased notably in this period and has involved rolling out four additional showrooms and two ChoiceCollect containers, opening a second distribution centre in Gauteng to provide quicker, more convenient deliveries and re-platforming and upgrading technology across the business.

Financial results exhibit moderate growth and strong investment

Group revenue increased to R3,2 billion (2017: R3,0 billion), benefiting from a solid contribution from the financial services business, with loan disbursements up 21,5%. This was tempered by weaker retail sales of 6,3%.

Group EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) increased by 3,6% to R821 million. Despite significant cost focus, the group could not sufficiently mitigate weaker top-line growth in the second half of the year. Headline earnings increased by 1,3% to R529 million. The group declared a final dividend of 99 cents and a dividend cover of 2,6 times was maintained.

Retail disappoints in H2

Retail revenue increased by 7,4% to R2,5 billion. After a strong sales growth of 18,9% in H1, trading in the second half of the year was impacted by operational challenges at the South African Post Office (SAPO), with delays in the delivery of catalogues and parcels. The non-delivery of monthly catalogues had a substantial impact on sales. The group spent significant effort to assist SAPO and has also sped up the roll-out of showrooms and container hubs to provide additional channels for customers to collect their products. Increased marketing expenses to stimulate sales and additional courier charges to deliver the products to customers were incurred, translating into an EBITDA decrease of 2,9% to R453 million.

The business is however well-positioned to continue its strong historical performance in 2019. Digital sales contribution increased to 16% and will be further enabled with the launch of new e-commerce site. Supporting the much-loved HomeChoice private label, there are now 120 external retail brands on offer which provide variety to existing customers and attract new customers looking for quality homeware, fashion, furniture and personal electronics. The group has also had very positive customer response from the showrooms and ChoiceCollect, with further rollouts planned for 2019.

“Longer-term targets are for 20 showrooms and up to 100 ChoiceCollect containers across the country,” said Maltz.

Financial Services generates solid performance

Loan disbursements in the financial services business increased by 21,5% to R1,8 billion. Pleasingly, loans to existing customers increased to 84,5% of total disbursements, with strong acceptance of MobiMoney, our three-month, digital-only facility product. Revenue increased by 12,2% to R746 million and EBITDA grew by 13,7% to R357 million, highlighting the annuity aspect of the financial services business. Over 40 000 new customers were acquired during the year, increasing the base by 11,4% to 176 000.

Insurance has demonstrated strong growth in funeral products. Gross written premiums increased by 70% over 2017. “The opportunity remains to add more personal insurance products to the portfolio. This vertical represents an attractive growth opportunity to diversify income and increase customer share of wallet,” added Maltz.

At least 86% of customers are now registered on our digital platforms and a third of loan transactions concluded, are done outside of normal trading hours. The richer Mobi platform creates a portal for a multitude of products and value-added services to be offered to customers via their smartphones. The introduction of airtime, data bundles and electricity sales has indicated the potential opportunity to increase customers’ digital engagement with the group.

Stable credit

The group continued to expand a quality credit book with gross trade and loan receivables increasing by 7,5% (on an IFRS 9 comparable basis) to R3,5 billion. Group debtor costs at 17,2% of revenue was marginally above 16,8% in 2017, and remains within the group’s acceptable risk tolerances. Non-performing loans declined, while NPL cover was bolstered by increased provisions.  The improving performance metrics are testament to the group’s ongoing conservatism in managing its credit book.

Strong cash generation

Cash generated from operations increased by 32,0% to R474 million, driven by a decrease in retail credit growth in H2, good cash collections, a reduction in loan terms and actively managing cash requirements in working capital.

“The strong cash generation capability of the business is evidenced by the fact the group has managed to grow a credit book of more than R3,5 billion while maintaining a net debt to equity ratio (excluding property) of 22,2%,” Maltz said.

Outlook

“We will continue to position ourselves as a leading digital partner in the mass market, with an omni channel offering that provides an attractive and seamless retailing experience across all channels,” concluded Maltz.

The group has serviced this market for more than 30 years and has built up a loyal customer base of more than 870 000 active clients. This base, together with our established digital platforms, offer enormous opportunity to extend our product ranges and service offerings.

About HomeChoice International PLC

HomeChoice International plc is an investment holding company listed on the JSE Limited. The group provides retail and financial services to the mass market in southern Africa. HomeChoice services its large, primarily female and middle-income customer base through two trading operations, HomeChoice (Retail) and FinChoice (Financial Services).

 

Four decades of memorable moments: Sun City is 40!

It has been 40 years since Sun International’s legendary Sun City opened its doors, marking the start of a new era in leisure and entertainment for South Africa. Emerging from the dry African bush in what was then known as Bophuthatswana, the resort, launched by hotel magnate Sol Kerzner, instantly captured the hearts and imaginations of entertainment-hungry South Africans. For the first time, they could explore the previously forbidden delights of topless extravaganza dancers, concerts by international bands and artists, and the thrill of glamour gambling.

Over time, Sun City has evolved into one of the most exciting and all-encompassing entertainment and leisure destinations in the country. It is where wildlife, vibrant nightlife, golf, outdoor adventure, an award-winning spa, a world-class casino and adrenaline pumping fun for all ages combine in one spectacular location. Sun City also borders the game-rich and malaria-free Pilanesberg National Park where visitors can spot the Big Five in their natural habitat from hot air balloons, in safari vehicles, on foot or on mountain bikes.

“After four decades, we are still inspired to give our guests experiences that will live long in their hearts and memories” explains Raul de Lima, Resort GM at Sun City. “Our 40th anniversary is certainly an auspicious milestone that we will celebrate with a super charged line-up of entertainment and events during the course of the year.”

Sun City has recently undergone an ambitious multi-million-rand refurbishment to revitalise its iconic appeal and ensure that it retains its rightful place as South Africa’s entertainment mecca. Today, visitors have a choice of over 30 restaurants, lounges and bars (ranging from fine dining restaurants to casual and family-friendly eateries); state of the art conferencing facilities and a suite of spectacular activities that have broad appeal. There are now seven thrilling water slides at the Valley of Waves; the Chimp & Zee aerial rope adventure course; the Sun City Bike Park; the Adrenaline Extreme adventure hub; Breakout, the mind-boggling obstacle challenge; the Vortex Lounge, and Sun Central which houses movie houses, the SA Hall of Fame and other fantastic attractions.

Sun City boasts a choice of hotels and accommodation. The Palace is a five-star hotel offering grand African luxury; the five-star Cascades offers secluded luxury, the four-star Soho is the resort’s lively Vegas-style hotel, and the three-star Cabanas provides contemporary, island-style accommodation. The resort’s timeshare offering, Sun Vacation Club, boasts self-catering accommodation with a choice of exciting amenities.

“We will not lose momentum garnered over the past 40 years. We continue to source the latest innovations in gaming and leisure to ensure that Sun City remains an iconic premier lifestyle resort on South Africa’s tourism map for another 40 years and beyond. As the old adage goes: life begins at 40,” concludes de Lima cheerfully.

Although the opportunities to create memorable moments at Sun City are vast and diverse, here’s a list of 40 must-try experiences:

Top 10 restaurants and bars

  • Legends ̶  a trendy grill house that pays tribute to the icons that have graced Sun City since 1979.
  • Bocado – offering one of the most beautiful settings to enjoy vibrant Mediterranean dishes.
  • The Grill Room – boasting some of best steaks and grills in the North West.
  • Plume – a chic-classic restaurant offering an evolving, crafted menu.
  • Crystal Court – for the most extensive breakfast buffet and decadent high tea.
  • The Brew Monkey – a gastro pub with a decidedly rustic microbrewery feel.
  • Vibes – retro-styled sports bar.
  • Tusk Bar & Lounge – for cocktails and light meals at The Palace.
  • Luma Bar and Lounge – for lunch and sundowners on the deck at Cascades.
  • The Shebeen – for authentic South African food and beer in a laidback setting.

Top 10 leisure activities

  • The Valley of Waves – featuring an array of thrilling water rides and slides.
  • The Cascades Forest of Lights where the lush tropical gardens and waterfalls are transformed into a magnificent landscape of colour.
  • Encore – the upmarket nightclub located at the heart of Sun City’s always-on party zone, Soho.
  • Rejuvenating spa treatments at the internationally acclaimed Gary Player Health Spa and Gym.
  • Segaetsho Cultural Village – enjoy an authentic Afriganza experience, with traditional and modern infused dance, music, crafts and indigenous games
  • SA Hall of Fame – an interactive hub paying homage to South Africa’s icons.
  • The Crocodile Village
  • Slots and tables games at the casino.
  • Ten-pin bowling.
  • Take the Leeto-Kgolo Heritage Tour on bicycles.

Top 10 adventure/ adrenaline activities

  • The Zip 2000 – one of the world’s longest and fastest zip slides.
  • Accelerator – a heart pumping challenge at Adrenalin Extreme.
  • Breakout – solve a series of puzzles and problems in order to escape a locked room.
  • Para-sailing
  • Jetovator
  • The Maze of the Lost City
  • Game drives
  • Balloon Safari
  • The Grizzly Quad Challenge.
  • The Chimp & Zee Rope Adventure Park – an aerial adventure at treetop level above the Valley of Waves.

Top 10 Sporting activities/facilities

  • Gary Player Country Club
  • Lost City Golf Course
  • Bike Park
  • Tennis
  • Mountain biking
  • Hiking trails
  • Airsoft Call of Duty (target shooting)
  • Drift trikes
  • Rock Venture Mini Golf
  • Segway tours

 

No water necessary: P&G Beauty unveils new hair care brand

The Procter & Gamble Company announced the launch of its first new retail hair care brand globally in four years, inspired by and co-designed with women in Cape Town during the water crisis Capetonians experienced in early 2018.

The new WATERL<SS hair care collection from P&G Beauty launched in Cape Town in March, exclusively at select Clicks stores, one of the leading retailers in South Africa. The range is designed to cater to the different hair care needs of women of all hair types and ethnicities, without the need to use a drop of water. The WATERL<SS collection includes:

  • An ultra-lightweight Foam Dry Shampoo that instantly revives hair, without residue, absorbing excess oil and leaving hair with an amazing scent that reactivates throughout the day.
  • A residue-free Dry Shampoo spray that makes it easy to keep hair beautiful in an instant no matter where or when you need it.
  • A range of Dry Conditioners that provide hair with the softness and smoothness of a traditional rinse-off conditioner, without needing a drop of water.
  • A range of alcohol-free Hair Refreshers with signature fragrances designed for all hair types, providing instant odour-detox, static control, and anti-frizz benefits.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, only 3% of the world’s water is fresh water and by 2025 two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages. Leading market research firm, Mintel, has also found that 27% of consumers are now trying to reuse or use less water.

The new WATERL<SS brand was recently previewed by P&G’s chief marketing officer, Marc Pritchard, during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland as part of the new “innovation agenda” from P&G, the 50L Home, that was announced during the Bloomberg Year Ahead Event.  The 50L Home, initiated by P&G, will bring together companies, policy makers, and communities to develop and scale innovations for the home that help solve the urban water crisis.

“At P&G Beauty, our goal is to be both a force for good and a force for growth. Water is a precious commodity that is under great stress, and we believe that we can play a role in helping people achieve the end result they desire despite water shortages through insightful and meaningful innovation”, said Alex Keith, CEO, P&G Beauty. “This is the intent behind the WATERL<SS brand: whether she has to or wants to use less water or is just on-the-go and needs a quick refresh, we are committed to providing every woman with products that work for her unique hair care needs.”

“With South Africa battling severe climate change, we are excited to partner with P&G Beauty to provide consumers with this world-first innovation in water-less haircare that will not only help them reduce their impact on the environment, but change the way they look at hair maintenance,” conclued Jamie Lane, head of Trade at Clicks.

 

Extend your retail reach with Outdoor

Extend your retail reach with Outdoor

Innovative, practical and effective solutions to business approaches are essential elements in today’s retail environment. In November Shopping & Retail SA had the privilege to meet with a highly successful team in the outdoor advertising arena – and whilst sitting in the boardroom with this team the excitement and enthusiasm in the room was tangible. This is their story:

The innovative directors of SB Outdoor: brothers Daniel, Mendy and Chaim Sarchi

The primary key throughout outdoor retail advertising is: a) effective reach to the target demographic; and b) the ability to communicate effectively with your customer. Truly a science comprising many facets.” – Chaim Sarchi

Focused on one such communication field within the outdoor discipline is a family business which was established five years ago by three very dynamic and enthusiastic brothers. This company has grown rapidly from strength to strength and is now a respected and preferred supplier by media agencies in this segment, to some of the largest local and international brands.

We are of course speaking of SB Outdoor – fuelled, driven and enthused by brothers Mendy, Chaim and Daniel Sarchi.

[During our discussion it was absolutely enthralling to watch this team bounce the ball around the room, each picking up where the other left off – an amazing display of unity, ESP and like-thinking as I have never before experienced. What a cool and together young management team – Ed.]

Outdoor gives advertisers unprecedented control

over how and where their ad is seen

From humble beginnings

Back in 2012 on a visit to their alma mater in Johannesburg, Mendy & Chaim Sarchi noticed that the school sign was looking somewhat ropey. He and his brothers, who were all working at the time, undertook to have a new sign designed and manufactured.

And the rest is history…

The school sign was duly replaced and the resounding success of this first initiative was such that it spurred the trio on to explore other opportunities in outdoor advertising and communication. And so it began. Working from their kitchen at home these entrepreneurial brothers then actively sought out landlords, new shopping malls and retail property owners, offering a range of outdoor advertising options and innovative billboard solutions.

This range of solutions soon became the company’s main focus and hallmark, and was exactly what landlords, property owners and retailers alike were looking for – innovative ideas and professional service.

SB Outdoor honed in even more by concentrating specifically on billboards. And then the business really took off.

Mendy: Unlike TV, radio or print, outdoor is media that cannot be turned off or put down. Viewers cannot fast forward through an outdoor ad as it moves through their environment or they enter the viewing range of strategically placed displays – like billboards. With TV, radio, print and the Internet, consumers have the ability to change the channel, fast forward, turn the page (or miss the page) or close the browser window.

Outdoor is possibly the last place where consumers do not control the ad space. This gives advertisers unprecedented control over how and where an ad is seen. Outdoor is GIVING advertisers more control over their ad space through its unprecedented offering of different media options. This at a time when other ad media are offering advertisers less control.

The company’s first biggish contracts in smaller retail billboards were soon followed steadily by higher visibility billboards on highways and in retail parking areas. Bigger brands across a number of sectors came into the fold, including restaurants, food brands, fast foods, financial service providers, car brands, cell phone service providers and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG).

The first products developed by SB Outdoor were cable-frame signs, which require little or no capital. Production was, and still is, outsourced to appropriate professionals, whereas systems management and ad rotation sequences – the core of the business – are all managed in-house.

Mendy: We really got traction once one of the bigger property groups came in

with rotational contracts of three months and longer. It was at this point we decided we needed to focus on traditional formats of billboards and building wraps – from highway billboards to billboards in shopping centres. Once that focus happened, and it continues to date, we now continue to secure restaurants, fast food and FMCG clients.

Our Billboards and high impact Building Wraps offer supreme diffusion in a variety of markets and are perfect for both established and growing brands

Daniel: Retail parking areas are high spend environments. People are arriving at a shopping centre to purchase goods – from groceries to big-ticket items. Parking areas are close to where the buying power is – the point of purchase. They are the ideal point to communicate the retail offering of suppliers within and to generate direct income for both the retailers and the property owner.

By advertising within these retail property environs we’re able to give retail landlords what they were looking for, and their retail clients booking with us in turn find the concept very attractive and effective – directly due to the fact that that is where the consumer buying decision is made – right there.

We work very closely with the landlords and see our relationship as a partnership which is built on open and transparent communication, including joint review of monthly revenue reports – and we only take on opportunities that are likely to offer high returns for the landlords and not just sign up and have vacant sites.

SB Outdoor media solutions range from airport mediums through to highway billboards, large building wraps and our media packages. The most popular package the company has developed is a standard format 3×6 meter billboard for the retail sector. It’s versatile, is very easily rotated between locations, is relatively simple to install, and is easy to maintain.

Chaim: We pride ourselves in this 3×6 meter format package. Our focus on this is what has made us a leader in outdoor advertising. The package that we offer our clients, property owners and tenants alike, includes moving these around (rotation) from site to site at two week intervals at no extra charge – for example from Sandton to Pretoria, to the West Rand and the East Rand. This regular rotation almost guarantees the landlord or property owner a fixed income off this structure in their centre; and the retail advertiser enjoys the high visibility and extended reach achieved through frequent rotation without having a high volume of bookings ‘everywhere’.

The success and demand for the 3×6 also enables us to keep the boards let at a high rate.

Daniel: In this short time frame of a few years our client base has grown to include many landlords and property owners from large listed companies to medium-sized and smaller businesses. We are there to meet their needs, advise on their requirements and arrive at a correct solution.

Our solutions hit the spot for both parties, property owner and advertiser – adding value all the time. We make sure that eyeballs are seeing our billboards right outside the shopping centre, with reach, with rotation, and with relevance – in areas that suit the required demographic. Shopping centres see the value of having good brands out there all the time, which in turn brings them good value. We need to get the eyeballs to see these boards – so it’s about marrying the two together… we aim to meet the needs of the landlord and we discuss most strategic positioning – which is why they choose SB Outdoor.

Research shows that static billboards on – for example – a highway route are less effective after two weeks. Rotation every two weeks is most effective, whereas after two weeks the reach “flat-lines” and loses effectiveness.

Geographic footprint

Presently operational in Gauteng and Bloemfontein, SB Outdoor is poised to expand into all regions of South Africa. With initial focus on Cape Town and Durban the company plans to roll out this working model to large and small shopping centres in these regions.

We have a very active sales team,” says Mendy. “And in line with our standard approach of running a lean operation we will work with local professionals in these areas, including print, production, manufacture and site maintenance.”

Daniel on technology and operations:

We will definitely be investing in digital billboards in the immediate future and have already begun negotiations in this regard. There are pros and cons to this technology and we expect to digitalise a few existing sites initially. One advantage is that digital screens anywhere in the country will be managed directly from this office.

With our core staff of nine here in Johannesburg we manage all aspects of sales procurement, site management and accounts. We run a tight ship using a sophisticated, efficient and fully automated operations solution in the office – and we never drop a call.

SB Outdoor is a premier out-of-home advertising company, specialising in billboard and large format communication. The company operates out of well-appointed yet conservative offices in Melrose, Johannesburg.

SB Outdoor’s mission is to provide the most advantageous locations and outdoor solutions which provide the greatest value and return on the client’s advertising investment.

The company takes pride in providing an exemplary level of service by meeting the needs of its clients and providing the most pertinent outdoor communication packages to suit their brand communication requirements and to best complement their vision.

For an assessment to generate additional revenue on your property call SB Outdoor on 011 268 1211 or 083 387 2661