How Edgars confirmed its position as South Africa's largest non-food retailer

Safe.Shop [S.S]: Can you tell a little bit about the history of Edgars?

Paris Philippou [PP]: The first Edgars store opened its doors in Joubert Street, Johannesburg on September 6th, 1929. By 1946, the company's turnover had already reached £536,000. In 1979, Edgars celebrates its 50-year-anniversary with a turnover of R216 million. In 1982 Edgars becomes a subsidiary of the South African Breweries Limited, and launches its Red Square branch in 1996. Edgars acquired CNA in 2002, Boardmans in 2004 and was acquired itself by Bain Capital in 2007

S.S: When did Edcon start selling online?

PP: It launched its first e-commerce website in 2012, under the CNA brand. The other brands (Edgars, Jet, Red Square and Boardmans) launched in subsequent years, with the largest being Edgars – which is our core focus currently. It’s become a key part of the Edgars strategy. 

S.S: Which digital challenges has the company overcome?

PP: The toughest challenges are generally legacy systems and sometimes legacy thinking. Integrations between systems can be a challenge, can slow down good ideas or processes, and can increase the total cost of ownership for things like e-commerce. With the legacy thinking, it’s something many large companies going through any transformation face, but I feel that Edcon is making large strides in its approach and adoption to digital.

SS: What is the focus of 2019/2020?

PP: The focus is to create a great customer experience, with a true omnichannel strategy that puts our customers front and center. We’re rebuilding our websites and looking to create a great overall online offering.

SS: What is your perception of market places?

PP: Market places are becoming a major factor in the landscape. Not only as competitors enter and disrupt traditional retail and other industries, but also where large companies are looking at creating market places that give customers a broader choice than physical products,  but rather a single point to cater to their overall lifestyle needs.

SS: You are using Safe.Shop. How does it help you?

PP: Yes, we are. Although we’re a well-known and trusted brand in the country, using the Safe.Shop Trustmark adds that extra element of trust, which is independent of the company. Trust is key for online to succeed

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