Mr. Tekkie, a new footwear retail chain, will be launched at the end of November, just in time to attract the end-of-year bonus and Christmas shoppers. The chain will open with 10-15 stores, says Braam van Huyssteen, who grew the Tekkie Town chain from one to 386 stores in just over 20 years.
The Mr Tekkie name was registered several years ago by another retailer, who subsequently sold it to Van Huyssteen.
Van Huyssteen and key executives sold the successful Tekkie Town chain to Steinhoff in 2016 and it became part of Star/Pepkor at the end of 2017. Earlier this year the new Star management, who took over after the Steinhoff shares crash, asked Van Huyssteen to step down as chairman of the property division and a Star Speciality Fashion and Footwear board member.
This sparked acrimony, culminating in several law suits, and, which eventually resulted in the unprecedented resignations of the top executives and more than 110 former Tekkie Town staff members at the end of June. Star/Pepkor hit back with an interdict alleging that the former Tekkie Towners had tried to sabotage and stole data to cripple the chain. Following their answering affidavit these charges were dropped against the former executives and three companies mentioned.
Van Huyssteen and former Tekkie Town CEO Bernard Mostert have pointed out several times that starting a new footwear chain now would be much easier than when Van Huyssteen opened his first sport store by borrowing R20 000 from the mortgage on his house.
Now, they are well-funded, thanks to their investment of proceeds from their former equity deal with Actis, they own several properties, including a warehouse and shopping mall, they have a strong executive team with the necessary know-how of how to run a footwear chain and have good contacts amongst suppliers at all levels.
Besides, they created the Tekkie Town success recipe: growing organically and not making debt, curtailing unnecessary expenses and creating a culture where staff members feel part of the family. And they don’t need to tap into data to recreate that.