Wetherlys is a brand furniture store owned by the Ellerines group of companies. The Ellerines group of companies comprises at least six brands which include Beares, Ellerines, Wetherleys, Geen & Richards, Furniture City and Dial-a-Bed.
Ellerines Holdings Limited (EHL) owns more than 300 furniture shops in South Africa and over 80 shops in foreign countries. Of the stores in South Africa, 63 belong to the Beares brand and 217 belong to the Wetherleys brand.
The history of Wetherlys dates back more than 40 years back when a family in Auckland Park, Johannesburg ran a small furniture business from their home. The family specialized in crafting wooden products, ranging from antiques to home furniture. They also supplied related imports obtained overseas. For a company that has more than two decades in the business, they have established trust among South Africans which is evidenced by more than 200 stores , branches and factory shops scattered all over the country.
To make it easy for customers to choose from their wide selection of furniture products and accessories, the company publishes monthly catalogues which often include discounts on high quality products. They also run clearance sales every year and on a seasonal basis to reduce the amount of stock which has stayed idle for a long time.
The last and biggest clearance sale run by the store began in January 2014 and ended in early 2015. The company was closing down for good, so they sold products at a giveaway price. An assortment of furniture for the living room, bedroom, kitchen and outdoors was sold to customers for discounts as high as 75%.
Store Closure and Liquidation
On 19 June 2015, the Ellerines Group announced the closure of its stores in South Africa. This included the Wetherlys brand whose founders are known for introducing the first sell-from-home retail concept, where the store sells items from its own warehouse, rather than renting commercial retail space. However, as the company grew, several stores were opened in all provinces and towns across South Africa.
The closure of the Furniture group saw many of its brands being sold to bidders in South Africa. Since Ellerines was financed by its parent company African Bank, which owned a major stake in the business, they were forced to liquidate their assets after African Bank went bankrupt, with debts amounting to 1.3 billion Rands.The company was placed under liquidation on 7 August 2014, and all stores have ceased operations.
The following brands were sold in the liquidation process:
Wetherleys furniture was sold to Shoprite for an undisclosed amount. However, at least 300 workers who were employed by the furniture company were allowed to keep their jobs under the new owner. Although Shoprite did not reveal much about the acquisition, it’s clear that they took over the firm including its inventory.
If you are an account holder with Wetherlys, your products should be delivered by Shoprite and your account payments should be made with African Bank.
Beares furniture was acquired by the Lewis Group for a sum of 93.7 million Rands.The deal involved 63 stores owned by the brand.
Dial-a-Bed, one of Ellerines’ brand was acquired by CoriCraft for an undisclosed amount.
Many people might be wondering why an established and widely distributed company like Ellerines had to close down, but the credit crisis which devalued the South African Rand by almost twice the initial rate in the 2014 – 2015 period was partly to blame.Ellerines was the major target affected by the credit crunch among all furniture manufacturers in the country. Other furniture giants which were affected by the credit crisis to a lesser extent are the JD Group which was forced to re-structure and consolidate its brand portfolio.
Survivors include the Lewis Group which came out unscathed, but took the opportunity to capitalize on the fall of Ellerines by acquiring the Beares brand for 93.7 million Rands.However, the Lewis Group is more careful about future expansion, preferring to minimize costs by focusing on small stores.
Another big survivor is the Shoprite Furniture department, which capitalized on the liquidation of Ellerines by purchasing all 217 stores belonging to the Wetherlys brand.
In order to pay off its R1.3 billion debt, Ellerines Holdings also opened its foreign assets for sale. These are stores outside the country numbering up to 80, and whose estimated worth is 400 million Rands according to a potential buyer who has shown interest. If the deal goes through, Ellerines will be guaranteed of liquid cash over the half-a-billion rand mark. Since the value of the Shoprite deal is not known, one can only guess that it’s over 500 million Rands or else it would be impossible to reach the target.
The New Wetherlys Store 2017
In case you are a Wetherleys customer, you should remember that the company has sold its stores and brand to Shoprite South Africa. You are more likely to find the same exclusive and high quality furniture that you were used to at Shoprite Furniture. So basically, Shoprite is the new Wetherleys.
When big companies and corporations are making acquisitions or changing hands, the SA Competition Commission will intervene to make sure that job losses are minimized. The previous staff and employees have been retained, so as an old customer you can be confident that you are getting the same customer service.
The company’s Facebook Page and Twitter Profile are no longer updated since operations are now run by Shoprite.
If you are looking for Wetherlys Catalogues or Weekly Specials, you may as well check the Shoprite Furniture catalogues.The Shoprite Group owns OK Furniture, with about 387 outlets in South Africa and neighbouring countries.