Bruce Whitfield (left), and Edcon CEO Grant Pattison.
  • The Money Show presenter Bruce Whitfield broke down on air after listening to an emotional clip of Grant Pattison, CEO of Edcon, explaining to suppliers that they won’t get paid.
  • Pattison himself was crying in the recording.
  • South Africa is facing a devastating loss of jobs and potential business bankruptcies as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider's home page.

The presenter of The Money Show on 702 and Cape Talk, Bruce Whitfield, broke down on air on Thursday after he listened to an emotional clip of Grant Pattison, CEO of Edcon, explaining to suppliers that they won’t get paid.

The massively indebted Edcon, owner of Edgars and Jet, was in a battle for survival even before the coronavirus crisis. But the national lockdown, during which clothing retail is forbidden, may have dealt the company a lethal blow.

Pattison had to explain to suppliers that Edcon can only pay salaries, and won’t be able to settle its bills with suppliers.

LISTEN | 'I’m gutted.' Edcon CEO in tears during call to suppliers

Pattison said it may not be possible for the company to re-open after the lockdown, due to last 21 days, but that management is trying to find a way.

"In the midst of our own stress and fears, we acknowledge the material impact our financial situation has on you and your businesses and the devastating effect our decisions will have on your operations, which we can only sympathise with.”

Pattison is overcome by emotion during his remarks and can be heard crying during the recording.

Introducing the clip, Whitfield described it as the most difficult conference a CEO can have, telling suppliers that their own businesses are under threat because the “money is not going to come”.

Some companies that supply Edcon will likely also go out of business if the company folds.

After playing the recording, Whitfield himself broke down on air.

"I’ve never heard anything like this," he said, adding that the consequences of the coronavirus crisis are serious.

He was off air for a while to collect himself.

South Africa – already under immense strain, with a recessionary economy that is not creating jobs – is facing fallout from Covid-19 and the associated three-week lockdown. There are already widespread reports of companies laying off workers, and those who are self-employed are expected to be hard hit.

Economist believe that economy may shrink by up to 2% this year, and that the lockdown may strain government finances to breaking point.

Moody’s is expected to strip South Africa of its investment-grade credit rating on Friday, which will likely result in higher interest rates on spiralling government debt.

You can listen to The Money Show clip here.

Receive a daily update on your cellphone with all our latest news: click here.

Also from Business Insider South Africa: