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BUILDING: A Reassuring Quiet At Tiletoria

 



Recent Western Cape Business News

TILETORIA, the Paarden Eiland-based tiles and bathroom accessories business, hardly cracks a mention in the latest set of results by holding company Invicta Holdings.

The relative quiet around Tiletoria is somewhat surprising since CBN – and other media commentators – believed Tiletoria might form the beachhead for Invicta’s push to build a retail presence in tile retailing. After all Invicta’s biggest shareholder is retail tycoon Christo Wiese, who knows a thing or two about capturing specialist consumer markets.

It’s been around four years since Invicta made their play for Tiletoria, paying around R46 million for a 60% stake in the business.

From what CBN can ascertain the business appears to be expanding cautiously rather than following the aggressive route that pundits might have expected.

Of course, with much of the building supplies market suffering from the prolonged downturn that started in late 2008, one might be forgiven for thinking that there would be opportunities a-plenty for Invicta to bulk-up Tiletoria.

The few lines of comment in Invicta’s year to end March 2011 results seem to purposefully play down Tiletoria – which in itself may be significant. Quite frankly, a ‘watch and wait’ strategy may well prove to be prudent in the longer term.

But it’s not like Invicta’s not paying attention to Tiletoria. The business has been expanded from its core Cape Town market to Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Balito.

Invicta CEO Arnold Goldstone points out that Tiletoria expanded its distribution network by moving to new premises in Durban and opening a branch in Johannesburg.

He says Invicta continued to invest in the infrastructure of Tiletoria.

Unfortunately Invicta’s results don’t offer a direct glimpse into Tiletoria’s performance – but the fact that the parent company is investing in infrastructure suggests that at least there must be sufficient promise in the top line performance. When Tiletoria was acquired by Invicta, reports suggested the business was turning over around R100 million a year from its Paarden Eiland premises.

Tiletoria’s website still claims the company is the biggest independent tile distributor in the Western Cape selling around 150 ‘FCL’s’ per month of local and imported products (“that’s roughly one quarter million sq m per month equivalent to tiling approximately 50 rugby fields every month”).

One must presume that turnover has grown quite substantially with the geographic expansion – even if depressed and competitive trading conditions have put a lid on margins (although – as a primary importer of tiles – the strong rand should have helped).

Goldstone points out that while Tiletoria did not contribute in any significant way (to Invicta’s bottom line) at present, the business should grow substantially in the next few years.

Somehow CBN doesn’t doubt that…


 
 
 
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