Sean Summers in comfy seat at Steinhoff

06 March 2011 - 01:42 By Adele Shevel
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Pick n Pay's former boss, Sean Summers, who left the retail group in 2007, has been quietly working at Steinhoff International for nine months.

Summers was CEO of Pick n Pay for 11 years and worked for the retailer for 33 years. For three years following his departure, he was restricted by a restraint of trade.

He is now responsible for co-ordinating Steinhoff's retail operations in the Pacific Rim, Europe and Africa and has spent much of his time in Australia effecting a change in management.

"My office is wherever my briefcase is," said Summers. "At this stage of my life I could do what I wanted to do. I'm having fun. They (Steinhoff) are as smart as foxes.

"There's no way I could teach them about lounge suites. But when it comes to retail processes it's interesting to have a look at this industry and bring a new perspective."

Since Summers left Pick n Pay, he has been advising companies in the retail arena, as well as individuals. During the past few years he has established a home in London and played more golf. "I wish it reflected in my handicap."

He had time for the leisure activities he could not indulge in when he was in corporate life, and travelled the world sightseeing and watching sport.

"It's time to work again and I'm looking forward to it."

All Steinhoff's retail revenue is derived offshore. The recent acquisition of Conforama will give Steinhoff immediate access to the à9.3-billion French furniture retail market, and it has a presence in Switzerland, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Croatia. The company has long expressed an intention to expand its retail operations in Africa.

"In Africa, we're looking at opportunities that present themselves. It's still premature to say exactly what they will be," said Summers.

The brands include Bensons for Beds and Harveys in the UK, PoCo in Europe and Freedom in Asia Pacific.

Along with furniture, the Conforama deal will add other goods to Steinhoff's stable, creating a platform that sells washing machines, computers, sound equipment, linen, towels, crockery, cutlery and household appliances.

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