Companies
Companies

Is there still a future for CNA?

by Dave Nemeth. It came as quite a surprise when Edcon announced on Tuesday, 4 February, that it was selling off CNA to a consortium of investors led by JSE-listed Astoria Investments.

by Dave Nemeth. It came as quite a surprise when Edcon announced on Tuesday, 4 February, that it was selling off CNA to a consortium of investors led by JSE-listed Astoria Investments. The embattled Edcon has been closing stores, downsizing and incorporating stand-alone brands like Boardmans into their existing Edgars stores under the brand Edgars Home. CNA stores were rationalised some years ago, with megastores like the Sandton City branch downscaled tremendously.

It did seem as if Edcon was getting CNA right, with improved store design and a revamped product assortment, but perhaps the most noticeable improvement was that of their service levels. The staff was friendly and eager to assist. Edcons’ reasoning for the sale is the CNA brand does not fall into the clothing portfolio like Edgars and Jet, which is understandable.

What does the future of CNA look like? It is hard to tell but there are many examples of how the takeover by a non-retail entity of a large retail group has resulted in disaster. A good example of this locally is when African Bank (ABIL) bought EHL (Ellerines Holdings) and completely destroyed all the brands that it took control of including Wetherlys. I do feel CNA has still got a huge scope to grow if managed correctly and has the input of innovative retail minds.

It was reported former Exclusive Books CEO Benjamin Trisk, is part of the consortium that bought CNA to focus on books, stationery, magazines, and gifting. This is an interesting focus considering how the magazine assortment has dwindled in CNA stores over the years as the print media industry has been disrupted by technology and specifically online publications, not to mention some established authorities like Exclusive Books.

I would have felt a bit more optimistic if the announcement had included some new categories into the mix.

Only time will tell, but I really hope this 125-year-old brand continues.

Dave Nemeth is trend forecaster and business consultant at Trend Forward, and a design thinker, innovator, business re-designer, trend analyst, keynote speaker and writer.

– Receive the Retailing Africa newsletter every Monday and Thursday. Subscribe here.