VENTURES: A Crazy Success Story
Recent Western Cape Business News
WHEN The Crazy Store first made its appearance some 14 years ago, most people were looking at it askance. There was an abundance of what appeared to be very cheap products, initially attracting clients from the lower LSM rankings. Locale was decidedly downtown. A lowly future trajectory was predicted for the effort.
How circumstances have changed for this Cape Town-based retailer. The Crazy Store last month opened its 200th branch in Cape Town’s ‘bespoke’ shopping centre - the Canal Walk.
If you haven’t visited a Crazy Store yet, this is what you can expect: A variety of over 5 000 low-priced products, all constantly changing and ranging from toys, bay supplies, toiletries, kitchen and bathware, stationary, books, garden and pet supplies and much more. It’s certainly not your typical Clicks. It more resembles a Chinatown shop, only smarter.
Having battled and overcome a mass of negative perceptions and prejudices, mainly from landlords, this retailer must have fought hard to earn the reputation and stature of being not only a respected tenant but also a favourite among its customers across the country. Occupying more than 50 000 sq m of retail space in a store network that spans small towns and large city shopping malls, The Crazy Store has kept its critics guessing. A well run operation, which is backed by modern warehouse facilities in Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth and now its latest R65 million warehouse facility in Cape Town, TCS just keeps on surprising.
This privately owned retail operation, which is on nearly R1 billion turnover with healthy double digit operating profit, has more than 1 000 staff who are being kept very busy. Managing director, Jon Els explains: “This is no time to sit back. While we’re already well-established in Namibia, we’re looking at further expansion - in Mozambique and Zambia - and we plan to open more stores in South Africa in order to satisfy our customer base.”
He says the last three years have been challenging due to the world recession. Customers have been affected by the high cost of electricity, fuel and food, and the company has been similarly affected by high electricity costs, higher distribution costs and increased competition. To counter these pressures, and to keep prices as low as possible, TCS has invested heavily in staff training, IT systems and increased efficiencies in the supply chain. “We aim to sharpen our efficiencies even further in the supply chain while also focusing on improved product range and quality to meet our customers’ expectations,” Els says.
“Opening almost two stores a month for the last 10 years has been both exciting and challenging, but having a strong management team that’s been together for most of this time has helped this process enormously. The challenge now is to keep the momentum of new store growth, while maintaining a fresh and new look at our existing stores.”
Melbro Retail, of which TCS is a division, has recently launched a new retail brand, Khoki, that sells a range of stationery, arts and crafts, educational toys and children’s books in a fun environment under the banner ‘Growing minds’ Khoki’s sixth store also debuted at Canal Walk in September. “Current retail offerings in this space are either boring, expensive or both”, adds Els, “and this is why the Khoki brand is so exciting.”
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