In late September IHA sponsored a trade mission to South Africa. The goal of each IHA-sponsored Trade Mission is to offer members involved in or wishing to grow their business in specific markets an opportunity to get a firm grip on the dynamics of that market and to meet the key retailers and distributors who are leaders in that market.
The South Africa Trade Mission included stops in the two key business towns, Cape Town and Johannesburg. As members learned on this trip, South Africa has a population of 52 million but only has five million tax payers. By contrast there are more than nine million people who are supported by public assistance.
Although there is a growing middle class, only a small portion of the population has the buying power to participate in the upscale sectors of the housewares market. Mission attendees were told that many of the upmarket consumers who have the buying power employ household help and often do not clean or cook for themselves. As evidence, attendees saw sections of uniforms for household workers available for sale in the cleaning and general merchandise aisles of mass market and supermarket retailers.
Retail pricing is complicated by high tariffs, with the exception of goods made in the EU, with which South African has a free trade agreement. Goods from the US, China and other non-EU countries often sell for several multiples of their US retail price.
Cape Town Retailer Focus: Yuppiechef
Headquartered in Cape Town, Yuppiechef is an online-only retailer in its second year of operation. They offer many housewares and food items directly to the SA consumer at www.yuppiechef.com.
The Yuppiechef “About Us” page says:
Yuppiechef was founded in 2006 by two good friends and we’re currently based at bright and bustling premises in Cape Town. We believe great kitchen tools change the way you cook and that people sitting down to eat together is a good thing. While working hard to offer a delightful online shopping experience we stop regularly to smell the roses, eat biscuits and dress up for breakfast.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of the Yuppiechef customer interface is that each customer, with each order, receives a handwritten thank you card. With every order the staff attempts to personalize using the customer’s purchase history. All staff members write at least three cards per month to supplement the work of professional card writers and to keep each employee invested in the company customer relationships.
Other retailers and the Trade Mission met with or visited in Cape Town included: Home Etc., @Homelivingspace, Game, Mr. Price Home, Funkiline, PJ Marketing
Johannesburg Retailer Focus: Boardmans
Boardmans’ “About Us” page says:
Trust Boardmans, your home specialist store, to help you create an impression that lasts. Celebrate your world and get your home ready for any occasion with the best in kitchen, bedroom and bathroom brands. Visit our stores or new online store www.boardmans.co.za for the hottest seasonal trends, the widest range of international brands and great value.
Boardmans was born in 1982 as South Africa’s original homestore and was acquired in 2004 by Edcon. It has continued to evolve and boasts an impressive range of tabletop, kitchenware and home décor offering including both new and exciting brands as well as those known and trusted over many years by customers.
With 34 stores nationwide Boardmans’ customers can use any Edcon company credit as well as enjoy the benefits of the Thank U loyalty program.Go to www.boardmans.co.za for more information.
Other retailers and distributors we visited and/or met with in Johannesburg included: Hirsch’s, Makro, Liv’In Batterie de Cuisine, Premium Brand Housewares & Hospitality, W.G. McDonald, Rocker, Third Avenue Trading, Berzacks
Join IHA International Business Council at http://www.housewares.org/ibc/default.aspx or contact Lori Szudarek at Lszudarek@housewares.org for more information on upcoming IHA-sponsored pavilions or Trade Missions including our Trade Mission to the UK which begins November 10, 2014 (http://www.housewares.org/pdf/hecna/2014_UK_TradeMission-Brochure.pdf).