Aca Joe is an international fashion store specializing in the design and production of mens, ladies and young people’s clothing. The store has its roots in the USA, in the beach town of Acapulco where it originated after its founder Joseph Rank was inspired to launch and set a new relaxed fashion trend which countered the conventional style of the 80s. The store was quick to expand across the USA where at least 100 branches, stores and factory shops were opened. By 1985 it was already listed on NASDAQ but this did not last as the firm could not keep up with NASDAQ’s requirements.
The ACA JOE store in South Africa specializes in cotton shirts for Golf and Rugby as well as seasonal themes for men and women which include T-shirts, woollen jerseys, pants, boots, coats, skirts, tops, dresses, robes, trousers, bags and suits. From summer casual wear to winter wear, office attire to social swag, you can find an appropriate modern style that makes you look the part without coming across as old fashioned and unimaginative.
The South African stores are owned by the Platinum Group, which owns five brands in the country, namely Aca Joe, Urban, Vertigo, Jenni Button and Hilton Weiner. Because of financial problems faced by the company, which saw the group failing to pay its rental costs for its 68 stores across the country, the company was forced to place its business operations under voluntary liquidation on the 25th of August 2015. It’s not clear if the credit crisis was the cause of the company’s poor financial performance, but what is clear is that the problems didn’t surface from nowhere. In the preceding years prior to the voluntary liquidation, the company was already facing problems which only got worse in 2013, when the owners of rented space decided to put pressure on the defaulting tenants.
A large percentage of the group’s retail space (49 stores) was being leased from Old Mutual Properties, Hyprop Investments Ltd and Liberty & Coutire Properties. By the middle of 2015, two of the major property owners, Old Mutual and Hyprop Investments had initiated court proceedings to force Platinum to pay its outstanding rent or vacate the premises. The company agreed to move out of the leased premises in Pretoria at Menlyn Park shopping centre, but since its directors were planning to leave five of their profit-making stores operational in Gateway Shopping Centre, Umhlanga, there were prolonged negotiations to maintain the lease agreement for these five stores.
So if you are an Aca Joe shopper, or a client of one of Platinum’s five brands, the news is that the Group’s other 63 stores around the country, from Cape Town to Pretoria have been closed. Along with the closures, the company has downsized its staff by about 78% from the time it started facing financial problems. However, the company’s headquarters, which are located in the City of Cape Town will remain open although the staff will be reduced.
The decision to keep the five stores in Gateway Shopping Mall open, is based on their high contribution to the company’s annual turnover and gross profit. In this case, Platinum decided to keep high performing stores and do away with the rest. These indispensible stores will act as an engine that will be needed to drive the future rebuilding efforts of the firm. There are plans to resuscitate the business to its initial glory once the conditions are favourable. This will depend on the willingness of financiers and creditors to pitch in.
At the time of closures and downsizing, the company was struggling to pay its employees, most of who had gone two months without being paid. Du Toit and Klopper, The business legal practitioners handling the company’s rescue said the company is basically insolvent, and can’t afford to pay full salaries. Employees initially got only 20% of their salaries, but there were no payments in the successive months.
Aca Joe is now operating on a smaller scale, with residents of KwaZulu Natal, Umhlanga benefiting the most because the stores in that region are still operational. For customers outside this region, you have to adjust to living without Aca Joe in your area. However, it is still possible to buy from your favourite brand store or factory shops by going online on the Aca Joe website.
Just as the brand’s fashion offerings are quite different from competitors, the Aca Joe site has a unique design and feel. The website is cool, simple and intuitive. It’s not overwhelming or crowded like other online stores where you have a hard time deciding where to start, but when you visit the store it’s like you have just entered an Art Gallery. You are met by this space and canvas art in the form of seasonal catalogues and heritage lines. While the PDF catalogues can only be downloaded, you can view the heritage clothing lines online as a slideshow.
ACA JOE Fashion Stores 2017
Only 5 stores in Durban, Gateway Theatre are open. These include Aca Joe, Urban, Vertigo, Hilton Weiner and Jenni Button.
The following stores are closed:
- Port Elizabeth – Greenacres
- East London – Hemingways
- Durban – Pavilion
- Pretoria – Menlyn, Brooklyn, Woodlands
- Johannesburg – Sandton City, Nelson Mandela Square, Hyde Park, Clearwater, Eastgate, The Zone, Fourways
- Cape Town – Cavendish, Canal Walk, Burg, Rondebosch Riverside
- Mauritius – Bagatelle