Pepkor reopen shops after looting
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  • Pepkor suffered damages to around 10% of its total store footprint in South Africa during the recent unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
  • The group, which owns brands like PEP, Ackermans, Tekkie Town, and Incredible Connection, says more than 500 of its stores were either damaged, looted, or destroyed.
  • But it aims to have 70% of these shops up and running towards the end of September.
  • The remaining stores – ones which have suffered severe damage and need to be rebuilt – will reopen "before December", according to Pepkor's CEO.
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Pepkor, which has one of the largest retail store footprints in South Africa, was hit hardest during the recent civil unrest across Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). More than 500 of its stores were either damaged, looted, or destroyed in the mid-July unrest. It hopes to reopen the bulk of these stores by late-September.

The wave of violence and looting which swept over parts of Gauteng and KZN in the wake of former President Jacob Zuma's arrest left in its wake more than 300 people dead and many more injured. The destruction of warehouses and shopping centres – coupled with disruptions to country’s exports – is expected to cost the economy between R35 billion and R50 billion.

Pepkor, which owns brands such as PEP, Ackermans, Tekkie Town, and Incredible Connection, suffered damages in varying degrees to at least 10% of its total store footprint in South Africa. The number of Pepkor stores affected by the riots is more than Shoprite's and Pick n Pay's damage tally combined, according to an estimate by the South African Property Owners Association.

"The initial assessment phase has been completed and we are working with multiple suppliers to secure the necessary stock, equipment, IT infrastructure and other materials to reopen our stores," said Leon Lourens, Pepkor's CEO, in a statement to the media on Wednesday.

Pepkor hopes to reopen "more than 350 of the more than 500 looted stores" – representing 70% of all affected stores – by the end of September.

"During a normal year we open 300 new stores. Now, added to our standard new store opening schedule, we are reopening more than 350 stores in approximately two months with the remainder of the stores to be opened before December," said Lourens.

Pepkor added that the reopening of some stores would be delayed due to "circumstances outside our control such as structural damages to the properties".

Other retailers are also planning to reopen affected stores following a detailed assessment process which was wrapped up towards the end of July. More than 130 Pick n Pay stores were damaged and looted during the unrest – with a further 76 liquor outlets "severely damaged" – and the rebuilding process has already begun.

By the end of July, Pick n Pay had managed to reopen 45% of its affected clothing and grocery stores.

READ | Shoprite sends mobile stores, in trucks, to communities whose malls were affected by looting

South Africa's largest food retailer, Shoprite, suffered damages to more than 200 of its stores. While no timeline of the retailer's full recovery has been set, Shoprite recently reopened its store in Jabulani Mall.

(Compiled by Luke Daniel)

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