June 24, 2013


With wholesale sales in excess of R5 billion annually, Randa is considered an innovative, trend-driven market developer and the leader in its field.

For Equator it is the next step in bringing first-class systems, marketing and market knowledge to South Africa for the benefit of its customers. "This is a very exciting development which once again elevates the accessory supply landscape in South Africa to a new level," said Leon Buhr, CEO of Equator, "With a shared customer-centric ethos, it is no surprise that Equator and Randa would eventually explore working together."

The merger offers Equator customers a better deal, Buhr said, "We asked ourselves what this will do for our customers? The answer was obvious. Randa Is allowing us to cherry pick the advantages of merging. For example, where it makes sense price-wise, we will source through their global network, where it doesn't, we will continue as before."

Apart from sourcing advantages, Equator will also gain from staff development, unique IT systems, and access to marketing case studies in the accessories field, and strategic input.

Equator staff already traveled to Italy and the UK in January to learn the technical and design side of the tie business. Further trips are planned for staff in March and April to Chicago and Shanghai to work with experienced teams in various fields.

Randa, with offices in the USA, Canada, Guatemala, the UK, Italy, Australia, and China, has now extended its footprint to Africa by investing in Equator.

Randa Accessories Global CEO, Jeffrey Spiegel, commented from New York, "When we were looking for a leading accessory supplier in SA to link up with, we were pleasantly surprised by what Equator had achieved in just over a decade. From the early days of discussions we felt there were a number of natural synergies that were mutually beneficial."

For example market knowledge. Randa supplies the accessory lines of many well-known US and UK brands, as well as many retailers' own brands. Equator will have access to the trends they are using to develop next season's products, 10-12 months before product is on the high street. In such a competitive trading environment as we have in South Africa, being ahead of what is on the high street by a full season will be of huge value to Equator's customers.

Moreover the global footprint gives Equator access to designs that are best sellers in all leading retail centres of the world, not just Europe.

''We like to think of Randa as our absolute edge for design direction, because we get Involved during the product development stages - not just once product Is already on the high street. On the other hand
Equator's Infrastructure in SA, its intimate knowledge of local retail and the complex market it serves, are of huge value to Randa,” added Romain Orlin, chairman of the newly merged entity.

In addition to the affiliation between Equator and Randa, Equator will absorb Wembley Apparel into its operations. Wembley Apparel, based in Johannesburg and headed by Steven Tooch, has been selling ties on behalf of Randa for several seasons. Tooch will head up Equator's Gauteng Sales office.

This also means that neckwear becomes a third and very significant part of Equator's product offering.

With Randa being the largest independently-held neckwear company in the world, and with a design office in Como, Italy, Equator is immediately positioned with a strong trend, design, and supply base. South African customers of Equator will have the opportunity to interact with Randa's global tie design and marketing teams.

Buhr's parting words, “We are certain that this deal will help us to better deliver on our customer needs; if we didn't believe that, we wouldn't have done it."

While the deal is effective 1 March 2013, teams began operationally merging in mid-December to ensure a smooth kick-off in March.