Windhoek-Bradlows, a furniture retailer in South Africa’s JD Group stable, opened a branch at the Okahandja Mall last year and already the new establishment is beset with challenges in servicing its clients.
A number of clients have complained about a lack of service, alleging they had paid deposits as long ago as early January and were still waiting for delivery of their goods by the first week of February. Bradlows currently operates branches in Okahandja, Swakopmund and Walvis Bay with another two outlets planned for Windhoek in the near future.
“This is unacceptable. How can a furniture shop take so long to make a delivery,” asked one client, while another questioned why the retailer was taking deposits while knowing that it cannot make deliveries.
When contacted earlier for comment, Bradlows Okahandja branch manager, Jan Swartz, admitted that since its opening, the store had been experiencing serious challenges, which he referred to as an ‘Information Technology issue’. But on Monday, he stated that all the issues had been sorted out, meaning that the retailer would finally start making deliveries.
However, when pressed for details about when exactly these deliveries would commence, Swartz changed his tune, saying that most, but not all of the issues had been sorted out before referring this reporter to his area manager, Stoffel Steenkamp. When approached for comment Steenkamp said he was driving and promised to respond to questions as soon as he arrived at a branch at the coast.
But, when following up he referred New Era to the Bradlows head office in South Africa. Upon contacting Bradlows in South Africa, New Era was told to speak to Tony van Blerk in his capacity as the operations executive.
In an attempt seemingly to block other queries, barely a few minutes after asking to speak to Van Blerk, New Era received an email from JD Group’s Legal and Compliance Officer, Hayley Mackay, who requested customer complaint numbers that customers would have received when complaining about the issues they are allegedly facing.
JD Group, is one of South Africa’s biggest furniture retailers which owns brands including Hi-Fi Corporation, Joshua Doore, Barnetts and Price n Pride. The JD Group was acquired by international furniture group, Steinhoff, in 2012, which relocated its primary listing to Frankfurt with the hope of attracting more investor attention.
Steinhoff also acquired Pepkor, a South African investment firm whose subsidiaries include Pep Stores and Ackermans. Steinhoff reportedly said that the steps it has taken since its announcement in December last year that it had appointed auditing firm, PwC, to investigate certain accounting irregularities have ensured that liquidity has been maintained across the group.
Steinhoff last week announced that it would be halting dividend payments and approaching some of its creditors for waivers, as it seeks to hold onto its money. Steinhoff has said it will be only be able to publish its 2017 financial statements once forensic auditors PwC have completed their independent report into the group. The Stellenbosch-headquartered retail giant, which has been under the cloud of an accounting scandal since December last year, did not say which financial institutions it would be approaching.