Tag: closure

OKI to stop selling printers in the Americas

OKI Data Americas has announced that effective 31 March, 2021, they will no longer distribute printer hardware under the OKI brand to the North, Central and South American markets.

This includes all LED-based single and multifunction, as well as dot-matrix (SIDM), printer hardware.

“This year OKI embarked on a new three-year mid-term plan that would reposition our company for sustained growth and long-term profitability by shifting our focus from a transactional selling approach to value-added sales and service delivery,” said Sergio Horikawa, President & CEO, OKI Data Americas, Inc. “Although we made significant progress in the execution of this plan, considerable shifts in printer market demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to reevaluate our ability to achieve the mid-term plan. After assessment by our management teams in the Americas and Japan, it has been determined that a new path forward is required resulting in today’s announcement.”

OKI Data, or selected partners, will continue to provide consumables, parts, and warranty services to the Americas markets as required by relevant countries and states to effectively support our current installation base. OKI will continue to work with our distribution partners to forecast, purchase and fulfill shipments to maintain inventory levels that meet on-going market demand.

“I want to reassure our resellers, partners and end customers that OKI is committed to continuing to provide the necessary consumables, parts and service to keep our printers operational for years to come,” said Horikawa.

This announcement impacts the Americas market only. OKI’s domestic (Japan) and other overseas markets will maintain their current business course and strategy. Global OEM arrangements and the distribution of specific value-added product lines, that impact the Americas, will be directly managed by OKI Data Corporation in Japan.

By Jenna Etheridge for News24 

Frustration is mounting as teachers’ unions await feedback from Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on its calls to close schools as the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa gains momentum.

Motshekga has been consulting with various stakeholders to find a way forward but the unions appear to be losing patience amid confusion over when she will meet Cabinet to discuss the issue and make an announcement.

Basic Education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga indicated on Monday that the consultation process was now closed.

“The minister has concluded the consultation process … she is now processing a comprehensive report of this process through [the] structure of government eventually with the NCCC [National Coronavirus Command Council] and Cabinet.”

This followed meetings with school governing body and principals’ associations on Thursday, civil society organisations and teachers unions on Friday and associations of independent schools on Saturday, along with the Council of Education Ministers.

But according to the unions, the consultation process is still ongoing.

Meeting

They met with her ministry on Sunday night and were invited to another meeting on Monday evening.

The e-mailed invitation, which News24 has seen, is titled “Follow-Up Consultative Meeting with Unions”.

Professional Educators’ Union general secretary Ben Machipi said they had expected the department to come up with a response on Sunday already.

Instead that meeting had felt to him like a waste of time.

“They had a task team constituted that was introduced to us by the deputy minister, where they requested our consolidated proposal,” he said.

“They cannot come and ask for a consolidated document, when that was something which was already given to her [Motshekga] personally.”

National Teachers’ Union president Alan Thompson said they had been asked to give the team a chance to read their demands.

“To us this is a matter of life and death… If she is saying she has concluded consultation, she is just ticking a box.”

South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said they remained focused.

‘Frustrated’

“We are dealing with lives here and are frustrated; however we must not give up… We are doing this because we have serious problems in schools.”

National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) executive director Basil Manuel said the issue now was not just about children being infected, but also the mental health and safety of teachers.

“On Friday, we were told there would be a Cabinet meeting over the weekend. We were told yesterday [Sunday] it was postponed until Tuesday,” he said.

“We are not advocating for teachers to sit back and enjoy a holiday. We want to be working on alternative models [for teaching].”

Rubbishing proposals by some to not pay teachers while they sat at home, he said thousands of teachers continued their work remotely so pupils would not fall behind.

The unions argued that teachers should be trained on how to prepare online lessons and assessments.

By Sesona Ngqakamba for News24 

Sadtu’s national executive committee held a meeting on Tuesday to pen a way forward as infections spiked in the country, affecting pupils and teachers.

Reading the statement, the union’s secretary general Mugwena Maluleke said its NEC resolved that schools close until the end of the peak.

Maluleke said evidence on the ground showed that there was no effective teaching and learning at schools during the current conditions.

The Mail & Guardian reported that another teachers union, the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa), has als0o called for schools to be closed until after the peak of the coronavirus.

The decision of the national executive to call for the school to close for the period was, among others, informed by the peak, the winter season, which was also impacting the surge, the union said.

“Science evolution” also guided the union’s decision, Maluleke added.

He said while scientific data at first had indicated that children were not susceptible to contracting the virus, this had not been the case at schools.

The union said it had written a letter to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and expected to engage with her and present a plan of what should happen while schools were closed.

The union said it was calling on Motshekga, through the National Institute of Communicable Diseases to use the peak period to come up with strategies to curb the spread and save lives.

It said another development that compelled its leadership to request a meeting with Motshekga was the airborne nature of the virus, which requires new ways of dealing with closed environments, adding that it was not possible to open windows in classrooms during winter.

SADTU calls for the following to happen while schools are closed:
Coordinated, interactive, and instruction radio lessons by teachers get underway.
That well-coordinated television programmes get underway.
The use of mobile phones to access content and the curriculum.
Use of education applications where content will be verified and authenticated not harmful.
Use of social media platforms for pupils to access the content.
Provision of gadgets to pupils and zero ratings of teaching and learning sites.
Maluleke said the union had also noted inconsistencies in the application of Standard Operating Procedures and the Department of Health, which were discomforting on teachers and principals.

“It requires we use the peak and the influenza period as an opportunity to get scientists to work on responses while learners are at home.

“The suspension of classes during this period would afford the platforms entrusted with the regulations and protocols, to amend and train the users. The situation is dire and impacts on everyone in the community, and not only schools,” Maluleke said.

He said the union was also concerned about the isolation and quarantine periods as well as “secrecy of those infected because the “principals were told not to tell anybody.”

The union said teaching and learning could not continue under a situation where schools open and close from time to time because of infections.Absenteeism due to anxieties and fear were also some of the concerns, it added.

“Standard Operating Procedures for the closure of schools upon confirmation of a positive case is not being implemented consistently and uniformly across the provinces. As a result, schools are on autopilot and acting outside of this particular protocol, and that is a risk to the community, [and] not only to the school,” Maluleke said.

Dominos goes bust in SA

By Kirsten Jacobs for Cape Town Etc

Employees at 55 Dominos Pizza locations across South Africa will be left jobless as the pizza joint closes its doors in the country.

Taste Holdings, owner of Starbucks and Dominos, has announced plans to liquidate its food businesses in the country with immediate effect. This decision comes after they failed to find a buyer for the Dominos licence in South Africa amid the country’s second recession in two years.

In November 2019, Taste Holdings sold Starbucks to Rand Capital Coffee, and also found buyers for other brands Maxi’s and The Fish & Chips Co. However, failure to find a buyer for Dominoes has led them to the decision to voluntarily liquidate.

“Domino’s Pizza LLC [the US franchise company] provided financial support and assistance during this period. Unfortunately, a deal could not be concluded on terms acceptable to all parties and further financial support was not provided by DP. As a result, it was decided to place the respective entities into voluntary liquidation,” the company explained in a statement.

Fifty-five Taste Holdings corporate stores will close with immediate effect, affecting 770 employees. The 16 franchised outlets will continue trading with management providing advice and assistance where possible. There is currently no date mentioned regarding when the franchising licence will be terminated.

By Babalo Ndenze for EWN

Parliament wants the government to find a way to stop the pending retrenchments at retail giant Massmart.

Mandla Rayi, chairperson of the Select Committee on Trade and Industry, Economic Development, Employment and Labour called on those departments to urgently intervene.

Massmart, which is majority-owned by US retail giant Walmart, has this week indicated it had started consultations with unions about the closure of up to 34 of its Dion-Wired and Masscash stores which could affect 1 400 employees.

Rayi said that it might not be ideal for the government to interfere in business but the severity of the pending retrenchments necessitated some form of intervention.

“We would like to have a meeting with the departments of employment and labour and DTI, with them telling us how far they’ve gone with regards to their intervention in this matter.”

He said that it was the very same government that facilitated the American owned Massmart’s entry into the South African economy.

“Remember when Massmart, an American company, wanted to come to South Africa, government was involved in facilitating their coming into the country, so we want them to get involved over the pending retrenchments.”

He said that the select committee would request a meeting with the departments of employment and labour as well as the trade and industry department to try to find solutions.

Standard Bank has announced that it will close 104 of its branches by June 2019. This comes after an announcement by the bank in March that it planned to close more than 91 branches.

The bank’s efforts to digitise its retail and business bank is expected to impact more than 1 200 jobs, as staff members are retrenched to make way for self-service offerings.

Standard Bank has published the full list of branches which will be closing across the country on its website. It also outlined the branches where customers affected by the closures can go instead.

Edcon may close flagship Edgars store

According to a recent article by Business Day, Edcon is considering closing its flagship Edgars store in the Johannesburg CBD.

This will form part of the ailing retailer’s turnaround strategy, as the company determines whether the Edgars brand is still a viable one to CBD commuters.

Edcon CEO Grant Pattison told Business Day that part of the idea was to have Edgars located in regional malls where it could take advantage of the traffic density.

“We are probably going to end up with one store in the CBD and it’s likely to be Jet.”

The Johannesburg CBD is home to three Edcon stores: an Edgars department store, a Jet store and a Jet Mart.

The 89-year-old retailer opened its first Edgars store in Joubert Street, Johannesburg, and has grown to have more than 1 300 shops across Southern Africa with nearly 12-million customers.

Edcon first alluded to the downsizing of space in a recent quarterly statement and has already closed more than 200 stores.

“I am a cynic about whether retail is changing, but what is fundamentally changing is the retail customer,” Pattison said.

Edcon reported a 9.4% decline in group retail sales to R7.6-billion for the third quarter of 2018, which ended on December 23. Total group revenue declined 8% to R8.187-billion.

Edcon’s flagship store, Edgars, has been struggling to find its place among modern South African consumers, who are enjoying shopping at international stores like H&M and Zara.

Earlier this month the company reported a quarterly sales decline. According to an article published by the Sunday Times, Edcon decided a few years ago to go with more fashionable expensive assortments and they forgot about their heartland customer, which is at the very centre of the business.

“If they are not selling the merchandise they have in their stores then they have to change their strategy, and Edcon appears to have been through some major changes,” Andrew Jennings, former president of Saks Fifth Avenue, GM of Harrods and MD of Woolworths, and author of Almost is Not Good Enough – How to Win or Lose in Retail, is quoted as saying.

Over the past decade, Edcon has struggled with leadership as its three CEOs have made some notable strategic blunders. The company has been in operation for 89 years. As of March 2017, Edgars had 1 343 stores including 187 stores in eight countries outside of South Africa.
Edcon has been selling off stores – the Legit store chains, with the exception of those operating in Botswana, were sold effective 29 January 2017 and the Edgars Shoe Gallery store chains closed during the 2017 financial year.

In addition, Edcon has closed 253 stores – but this has left the retailer with too many leases in malls and no brands to fill the empty space

According to The Sunday Times, the store has been trying to find a solution to this empty floor space and as such has introduced a coffee shop into its Eastgate Mall store called Made Café . This serves both to use up empty space and to act as a drawcard to the store, following the modern consumer trends.

Malls in crisis as Stuttafords shuts down

Stuttafords’ shutdown may be only the tip of the iceberg for mall owners, who are facing further tenant failures and store closures as consumer spending tightens. But it’s not necessarily all bad news.

The demise of Stuttafords and the looming closure of a number of Edcon stores will bite into the earnings of shopping mall owners, who increasingly face rising vacancies and falling rentals.

JSE-listed mall owner Hyprop Investments expects it will take six months to find new tenants for the 11,000m² of space left empty following last month’s closure of Stuttafords stores in three of its flagship shopping centres.

Hyprop CEO Pieter Prinsloo says it’s too early to say what the impact will be on the company’s bottom line.

“It will depend on how long the stores stand empty and what rental levels we can achieve on new leases.”’

However, he concedes that the Stuttafords store closures will negatively affect dividend payouts to shareholders for the year ending June 2018.

Hyprop is the JSE’s largest specialist retail-focused real estate investment trust (Reit), with a market cap of R30bn. It has in recent years consistently outperformed the sector, both in terms of income and capital growth.

In March, when the company reported results for the six months to December, Prinsloo said Hyprop was on track to achieve dividend growth of 12% for the full year ending June — well ahead of the 7% sector average. That level of growth appears unlikely to be repeated in the 2018 financial year.

Hyprop is already in talks with various retailers to fill the space vacated by Stuttafords. Prinsloo says international retailers, including Swedish fashion retailer H&M, and Zara, are still keen to expand their SA footprints. “Turkish fashion brand LC Waikiki is also interested in establishing a presence in SA.”’

The problem, says Prinsloo, is that it is likely to take six months to negotiate lease agreements with new tenants and fit out new stores. And there is a chance that Hyprop may have to let the vacant space at lower rentals than Stuttafords was paying. Says Prinsloo: “The reality is that trading conditions are tough, with retail sales under pressure across the board. So everyone wants to pay lower rentals.”

Though Stuttafords has paid its rent until the end of May, Hyprop will claim damages equal to the amount owed for the unexpired portion of the three leases. The Rosebank Mall lease was the longest and has four years remaining. But Prinsloo doesn’t expect to recover much. “Creditors are unlikely to get back more than 3c in the rand.”

Other JSE-listed mall owners that will be affected by Stuttafords store closures are sector heavyweight Growthpoint Properties and Liberty Two Degrees. The latter owns stakes in Gauteng megamalls Sandton City and Eastgate. The Stuttafords store in Growthpoint’s Brooklyn Mall in Pretoria shut its doors last month.

It’s not clear if and when its Sandton City and Eastgate stores will close. Liberty Two Degrees declined to comment on the issue.

Stuttafords’ shutdown may turn out to be only the tip of the iceberg for mall owners, who are facing further possible tenant failures and store closures. International fashion brands Mango and Nine West, which were brought to SA by House of Busby, closed their stand-alone stores in March. British retailer River Island, which has a presence in Rosebank Mall, Sandton City and Mall of Africa in Gauteng, Canal Walk in Cape Town, and elsewhere, exits SA this month.

Of particular concern are the looming store closures by the struggling Edcon group, the largest occupier of retail space in SA through its Edgars, Jet, Jet Mart, CNA and Boardmans brands.

Edcon CEO Bernie Brookes said last month the group plans to shut a number of stores when leases come up for renewal, in a bid to stem losses from falling sales and cannibalisation (when a new store lures customers away from an existing one in the same “catchment area”).

Though vacancies in the retail portfolios of larger property stocks are still relatively low at less than 3% typically of gross lettable space, vacancies are bound to tick up over the next 12 months.

Trading densities (turnover/m²), another key measure of retail performance, are already under pressure. Trading density growth in the mall portfolios of both Growthpoint and Hyprop slowed to the low single digits in the six months to December, from 7%-8% achieved 18-24 months ago.

Growthpoint head of retail Stephan le Roux says Edcon store closures will affect all mall owners, given how difficult it is becoming to replace tenants. “Everyone’s growth is flat or falling, so very few retailers are looking to expand in the current weak economy.”

To the (business) rescue
More financially distressed companies that have gone into business rescue since 2011 have been saved than have failed.
Le Roux believes there is also an increased risk of tenant failures among smaller, independent “mom and pop stores” as they often don’t have the financial resources to keep afloat amid continued pressure on retail sales.

The perfect storm has been created by developers’ and retailers’ overzealous expansion in recent years, amid dwindling consumer spending, says Le Roux. “Over the past decade the amount of new retail space added to the market grew at a much faster pace than retail sales. Until a year ago, it was mostly lower-and middle-income shoppers who were under strain. Now upper-income consumers are also tightening their belts as higher taxes and overall living costs erode disposable income.”

Property analysts say store closures by underperfoming retailers is not necessarily all bad news. Meago Asset Managers director Jay Padayatchi says Stuttafords closures could be a blessing in disguise as vacant space may be taken up by international retailers who could trade better and bring in more feet.

Stanlib head of listed property Keillen Ndlovu says the upside of tougher trading conditions is that SA landlords will be forced to improve the shopping experience for consumers. He says this is already happening in the US and UK, where mall owners have had no choice but to adapt to changing shopping patterns and the advent of online shopping.

In the US, he says, department stores seem to be a thing of the past. Landlords are converting big spaces into smaller, specialised outlets.

Ndlovu says globally the focus is increasingly shifting away from fashion/apparel to food, beverage and entertainment offerings. This has already delivered rental upside for large US-listed Reits such as Simon Property Group and General Growth Properties.

Ndlovu notes that SA retail landlords will, similarly, also have to become more innovative to stay ahead of the game. “There’s huge room for SA property owners to improve the tenant mix in local malls as well as to embrace new technology through apps, free WiFi and use of data analytics to better understand shoppers’ changing needs and preferences.”

By Joan Muller for www.businesslive.co.za

Finnish pulp and paper maker UPM-Kymmene has stated that the company will close its Madison Paper Industries paper mill in Maine, United States, and sell off its related hydro power assets.

UPM-Kymmene, the world’s biggest producer of graphic papers such as newsprint and magazine and office paper, has recently aimed to shift focus to pulp, as the market for print paper has been hit by the growth of digital media.

The mill, that employs more than 200 people, produces approximately 195 000 tonnes of supercalendered paper used for magazines and catalogues.

UPM-Kymmene says that demand for supercalendered paper declined significantly in 2015, and the decline is expected to continue.

“The Madison mill is not cost-competitive and has lost a significant amount of sales in the recent past,” says Ruud van den Berg, senior vice-president of UPM Paper for Europe and North-America.

The mill, a partnership with Northern SC Paper Corporation, a subsidiary of the New York Times Company, is expected to close at the latest by the end of May.

By Tuomas Forsell and David Evans for www.reuters.com

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