The demise of Bernie Brookes – again!

BernieBrookes2The performance of Bernie Brookes at Edcon has been underwhelming to say the least.

In the year to March 25 2017, Edcon’s group sales decreased 6.7 per cent to R25bn. Sales at comparable stores fell 6.7 per cent.

Within the discount division, sales decreased 6.3 per cent to R8.9bn, while comparable store sales decreased 5.7 per cent.

The specialty division reported retail sales of R5.5bn, 6 per cent less than the previous year,

Cash sales fell by 2.4 per cent while credit sales fell by 13 per cent.

EBITDA has declined by a massive 45 per cent.

Edcon has had enough and Brookes will not have his contract renewed.

The former Myer CEO joined Edcon in July 2015 after stepping down following nine years at the helm and a series of disappointing sales and earnings results. Two weeks after he stepped down, the new CEO, Richard Umbers, announced a 23 per cent fall in first half profit.

Former Massmart executive, Grant Pattison, will replace Brookes in February 2018.

Brookes’s background is mainly groceries having worked at Woolworths Australia.

Yet again, Edcon has appointed a grocery man who has no experience in fashion and apparel.

During his tenure, Brookes surrounded himself with new and weak directors.

Of the 12 people who were reporting to Brookes when he joined Edcon, there are four remaining. The new directors were described as unimpressive and Sasfin analyst, Alec Abraham, commented at the time that it looked as if Brookes did not want to be challenged.

The fate of Marianne Jones, who is very close to Brookes, remains vague,

Brookes’ return to Australia, tail between legs, seems inevitable.

Ironically the 57-year-old seems oblivious to his diabolical performance and is quoted as stating, “If I was younger, I would stay for another three to five years.”


Stuart Bennie is a retail consultant at Impact Retailing and can be contacted at or 0414 631 702



  1. Former_Journalist posted on June 9, 2017

    What an interesting piece of "journalism". No wonder the media continues to come under scrutiny for its lack of integrity and robust journalism. Looks more like a personal attack. Retail is facing continued market and transformation pressures. This type of article doesn't help, merely adds to the volatility and tainted views that drive short term thinking rather than long term outlooks. Where is the analysis on how the market Mr Brookes is currently in is doing? South Africa is renowned for high unemployment, low incomes (read little discretionary spending) as well as turbulent government conditions. And what about looking more broadly than the CEO? CEO are often tied by boards - look at David Jones and Paul Zahra's handling of his board back in the day. It's always easy to take the easy way out when writing this sort of article and attack individuals. The industry implores you to step up Stuart Bennie.

  2. Evan posted on June 9, 2017

    You should show more respect, Bernie Brooke's is respected retail veteran and all this shows is bitterness and jealously.

  3. Stuart Bennie posted on June 9, 2017

    Ex journalist. What makes you think you speak for the industry !! I lived in South Africa for 40 years. I worked for Edgars for a number of years . I know the country and the company better than most. The buck stops with the CEO and Brookes has now stuffed up not 1 but 2 companies !! And as for the other commentator, respect is earned. And yes there are a lot of people jealous of Brookes. They all wish they had his ability to get CEO positions with his dismal track record!!!!

    • Former_Journalist posted on June 10, 2017

      I think you just proved my point if this is the type of journalism you represent. Unsubscribe!

  4. Dave posted on June 12, 2017

    Call it as it is Bennie. Damage only comes from falsehoods, manipulation and ignorance

    • Stuart Bennie posted on June 13, 2017

      Many thanks Dave. Appreciate your support. Yes - I agree. The damage is a direct result of Brookes' falsehoods, manipulation and ignorance. I will continue to call it as it is. Comments such as yours make it all worthwhile. Kind regards, Stuart

  5. Peter posted on June 13, 2017

    I like Bernie Brooke's, Paul Zahra, and their other cohorts immensely because it allowed real retailers like myself and many others to make a fortune out of their complete incompetence. Retailing is like a simple chair. The seat is for customers and staff to sit on. Bernie and his mates are nothing but a leg holding up the seat on the chair. That is where they got it completely wrong.

    • Stuart Bennie posted on June 13, 2017

      Thanks for your call and your support Peter. We seem to think alike !!

  6. Jack Zervos posted on June 14, 2017

    As both a supplier and retailer with direct experience in both the Australian and South African Markets the results and performance of brands lead by Mr Brookes speak for themselves .. HOPELESS.. Respect of leadership is earned through results not position or entitlement and this man has "lead" the demise of two iconic brands... Tough times.. ? Sure.. Challenging Conditions? Definitely but that's when great leaders shine.. this bloke's greatest achievement is to somehow land leadership roles far in excess of his ability, achievements and results... but unfortunately he's in pretty good company... .!

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