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Edgars closes shop

Sept. 11, 2020 2 min read

2 min read

MASERU - Edgars Stores based at the Maseru Mall has closed shop, leaving the upper-class shopping complex, already hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in a rather tremulous position.

The closure further means that more people continue to lose their jobs in Lesotho. Edgars, together with other retail shops such as Jet and CAN are subsidiaries of the embattled South African retail company EDCON holdings.

Founded in 1929, EDCON is a leading retail company based in South Africa operating in the clothing, footwear, textiles, cosmetics, accessories, and cellular products in Southern Africa including Lesotho, with a wide assortment for everyone including local and international brands.

Recently, EDCON announced that it has signed a sale and purchase agreement to sell parts of Edgars to another fashion retailer, Retailability. Retailability is a fashion retailer and holding company that owns the brands Legit, Beaver Canoe, and Style. It operates in over 460 stores across South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, and eSwatini.

Retailability bought Legit clothing stores from Edgars for R637 million in 2016. Maseru Mall management has confirmed to Metro that Edgars have shut down as the pandemic continues to hurt the economy. “Edgars Stores has closed and our sympathies go to the families that have been hurt by the global pandemic. Unfortunately, the pandemic began during a time when all business was slow, especially fashion, retail, and entertainment.

“There is nobody who has not been affected by this, but as you can see, certain sectors have benefited and I just think we were all not ready. People have lost jobs and companies have had to close completely,” Maseru Mall Centre Manager Baholo Chimombe said on Wednesday.

Despite the challenges, Chimombe remains optimistic that the mall shall overcome as it continues to be the safest shopping experience in the country. “We shall overcome this tide and look forward to making firstly Maseru mall the safest shopping experience in Lesotho and we are seeing a significant improvement,” he added.

The struggles for EDCON further bring more challenges to the local textile and apparel industry, which also accounts for more jobs and exports in Lesotho. The industry exports an estimated 30 million jeans per year to EDCON.

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The company has been going through tough economic conditions, struggling to survive even before the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2016 the company recorded a net debt of R24.7 billion and was temporarily taken over by debtors to avoid financial collapse. This resulted in the closure of 253 stores by 2018 as part of a recovery plan.

Following the recent coronavirus outbreak in South Africa and the ongoing national lockdown, the company announced on April 29 that it has lost R2 billion in sales since March 15. Challenges have now reached the climax with the pandemic continuing, bringing economic activity to a standstill.

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