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72 www. bus- ex. com November 09 the buyout team turning the company around. They did this by reducing costs and consolidating their R90 million assets, changing John Craig from a company that was making R1 million profit with huge overheads, to one that was making R6 million within three years. The business's profit margins continued to increase, but to really encourage growth it needed to join a larger organisation. This led to the merger with Pepkor. " As we were, we simply weren't big enough to grow as aggressively as we wanted," explains Moreira. " We are now present in the provinces of Gauteng, North West, Limpopo, KwaZulu- Natal, Free State and Mpumalanga. We are just starting to open stores in Eastern Cape, which is a great opportunity, and the next consideration will be Central and Western Cape." The company aims to open seven new stores a year, increasing the availability of John Craig merchandise to a larger proportion of South Africans and growing the business. This project is aided by the fact that Pepkor has a property division, allowing John Craig to find new properties without having to spend time searching for them. The weight of a large corporation like Pepkor also allows for better negotiation on rental prices than John Craig would be able to achieve itself. The company also now has access to a 650 square metre state- of- the- art warehouse owned by Pepkor. Situated in Isando, 10 minutes outside Johannesburg, it allows the storage of items for distribution around the country and, as it is owned and operated by the parent group, the rent is affordable. " This is something that we would not have been able to do by ourselves," says Moreira, " and it now enables us to focus on our house brand distribution and replenishment." The company's own brand lines have also been growing in popularity. " It is an increasingly important part of the business," states Moreira, " and we have seen demand grow steadily from five per cent to 30 per cent, where it now stands. We are able, through our house brands, to offer premium quality at a more affordable price. This is very much a customer led growth pattern; we are meeting demand

John Craig November 09 www. bus- ex. com 73 as other services such as the free tailoring service and quality money- back guarantee it has always offered. The company has diversified over the years into insurance, credit and mobile phones, all of which set it apart from its main competitors, the independent traders. After what has been a turbulent economic period, it is always heartening to see a company with such a rich heritage as John Craig continuing to grow and diversify its business. Plans for the immediate future involve expanding its store infrastructure and staff training to increase footfall. " Highly motivated and specialised personnel are key to our success; after all, the essence of the business is its staff," says Moreira. Longer term, the business may look to expand into neighbouring countries. " Quality, exclusive product and the customer experience are also keys to our success," confirms Moreira. " Once we have completed our current goals, this will be something to examine further." - Editorial research by Don Campbell rather than trying to force the product onto our customers." Currently John Craig is a niche operation, operating boutique- like stores that target men in the 30- plus age range, who want a more refined look than they can typically find in most stores. Nevertheless, John Craig is aware that it is still in competition with large department stores, so price competitiveness is essential. The personal touch offered by having smaller shops is one pull, as well Eclipse Technologies provides tailor made software applications and IT services to companies who require IT solutions to fit their business and not the other way around. We solve business problems with innovative solutions and use the latest technology to do so. Eclipse Technologies prides itself on customer satisfaction and will always try and satisfy the customer's need. Eclipse Technologies