South Africa

Exec who built Pepkor is back as CEO

Pepkor Holdings has chosen Pieter Erasmus, who was the chief executive officer at Africa’s largest clothes retailer for 16 years, as its head. Again.

The 56-year-old retail stalwart led and expanded Pepkor from a relatively small company in 2001 until it was sold to Steinhoff International Holdings NV in late 2014 for about $5.7 billion.

Three years later, Erasmus left, and Steinhoff spun off most of Pepkor as Steinhoff Africa Retail Ltd. Steinhoff in December 2017 was embroiled in an accounting scandal.

Erasmus returned to Pepkor’s board in January shortly before Steinhoff said it had won approval for a $1.6 billion settlement with investors who had lost out in the wake of the scam.

He replaces Leon Lourens, who is taking early retirement, Cape Town-based Pepkor said in a statement Monday. Erasmus’ return boosted the company’s shares by 1.4% as of 3:51 p.m. in Johannesburg, even as the benchmark index fell 1.1%.

Lourens leaves after steering Pepkor through the repercussions of the Steinhoff crisis, pandemic-induced supply chain problems, a week of deadly South African riots a year ago, as well as floods in the KwaZulu-Natal province earlier this year.

He will step aside on Sept. 30 and will be available until the end of March to help with the transition, Pepkor said.