Strong debut for WeBuyCars on JSE 

WeBuyCars has made a strong start to life on the JSE, with the company’s share price rising on its first day of trading. 

The company’s shares began trading on the JSE on 11 April, with plenty of fanfare for the exchange’s first local listing of 2024.

Its shares were initially valued at R18.75 pre-listing, valuing the company at R7.82 billion.

However, demand for the company’s shares was strong on Thursday morning, driving the opening share price to over R20.

This made the company worth over R8.3 billion by the close of trading.

CEO Faan van der Walt reminisced about how he and his brother, Dirk, used to travel to Sandton’s “concrete jungle” with cash in hand to buy cars to sell at their dealership. 

Now, the company employs over 2,800 people and trades over 14,000 cars a month through its ‘supermarkets’. 

Most impressively, its growth has been entirely organic – not once did the company raise debt to fund its growth. Rather, it relied entirely on the profits generated by the business.

Faan and Dirk did not draw a salary from the company for many years to put as much money as possible into growing the business. 

From the beginning, it was clear that if you do not buy it right, then it will never work. It did not matter how good they were at selling cars – if you bought them for the wrong price, the business would fail. 

Faan said this is the “goose that lays the golden egg”. This saying is pinned on the wall in their offices to remind employees what made the company so successful. 

Dirk always wanted to go big and thus convinced Faan to put a billboard up on the N1 with them holding cash in hand, propelling them to become a household name in Gauteng. 

This forced them to open their first ‘supermarket’ in Pretoria, which could store 100 vehicles. In less than a year, they expanded their capacity to 700 vehicles. 

Dirk and Faan did all the work themselves for the first ten years. However, after launching a website, the brothers soon realised they would need to hire people to buy and sell cars across South Africa.

In 2014, they began appointing their first buyers in all major cities in South Africa and followed up this expansion with the launch of more supermarkets in Cape Town, Durban, and Centurion. 

During this expansion, they began developing their own software capabilities to track buyer behaviour in real-time and determine their pricing. 

Their chief digital officer, Wynand Beukes, explained that WeBuyCars now processes over 80 GB of data daily and has over 1 TB stored as historical data. 

WeBuyCars has, in just over 20 years, grown from a company with two employees buying and selling a handful of cars a month to a 2,800-employee behemoth that bought and sold over 13,500 cars per month in 2023. 

Since Transaction Capital acquired a non-controlling 49.9% stake in the company in 2020, it has increased its trade volume ten times. 

At the beginning of 2024, Transaction Capital announced its intention to unbundle and separately list WeBuyCars on the main board of the JSE. 

To continue its growth, Faan said the company will remain focused on its current offering while expanding its financing and insurance business and its physical footprint across the country. 

They expect to double their market share in the next five years and have a buying pod in every town across South Africa and at least one within 10 km of everyone in big cities.