As of today, 1 August, department store Stuttafords, will no longer be in existence. The store is yet another victim of a global shift to online retail and a domestic economic slump that has put big brands beyond customers’ reach. In its flagship store in Johannesburg’s Sandton, piles of naked mannequins have been laying in heaps next to bare shelves as the last few bargain hunters picked through trays of heavily discounted perfumes, make-up and clothes.
Despite the numerous measures taken to turn the business around, stiff competition from the influx of international fashion brands that have launched in the country has eaten into the retailer’s once broad consumer base. Attempts to revive its fortunes proved futile and creditors voted in June to wind up the unlisted firm by Aug. 1, with closing-down sales at its nine stores in South Africa, two in Botswana and one in Namibia.
This is the end of a piece of retail history for South Africa. The first shop was opened in Cape Town in 1858 by Samson Rickard Stuttaford with the vision of creating a Harrods-like department store in what was then Britain’s Cape Colony.