Listed media and internet group Naspers is in the process of restructuring top management as well as its online retailer portfolio as the company positions itself to focus on stronger growth in the e-commerce sector.
MIH Internet Africa Group, the Internet arm of Naspers in Africa, has confirmed that it is considering closing some non-core ‘e-tailer’ brands such as Style36 and 5 Rooms, with the company currently “consulting with staff” over the move.
Last week (20 February 2014), four of Naspers’ e-commerce websites – SACamera, 5rooms, Kinderelo and Style36 – were taken offline, carrying a maintenance message.
However, industry speculation suggests that Naspers is planning to pull the plug on all these ventures.
As reasoning for the move, the company said that it will be placing all efforts behind Kalahari, which has had a very strong Christmas and has just introduced an advanced platform successfully.
“It is going to grow Kalahari aggressively over the next year,” explained Remo Giovanni Abbondandolo from Africa Internet Accelerator – the company behind Style36, 5Rooms and Kinderelo.
Naspers’ Meloy Horn said that this process does not affect other Naspers subsidiaries with e-commerce investments in Africa, including Media24, which is focusing on fashion e-commerce.
“Media24 continues to leverage its magazine titles to drive e-commerce activity, especially through fast-growing fashion vertical Spree, and is planning to expand substantially in this area,” said Horn.
She added that she cannot provide more details at this stage as the consultation process is on-going.
“On a group basis we remain very excited about the future growth prospects for e-commerce and continue to build out our platforms in many markets around the world,” she said.
Focusing on e-commerce
On Saturday (22 February) Naspers announced that its chief executive, Koos Bekker would be stepping down from the position in April.
After a year off, Bekker will return in April 2015 as chairman, Naspers said.
Bekker has driven the company through 17 years of explosive growth, which transformed a small publisher into an emerging markets giant.
Bekker will be replaced by e-commerce chief, Bob van Dijk.
“In view of our strong development focus on e-commerce, the board believes that Bob has the skills to lead us into the next phase of our growth,” Chairman Ton Vosloo said in a statement.
The appointment of Van Dijk to the media company’s top job underscores an emphasis on its e-commerce platforms and internet companies, which have spurred its massive growth.
Nasper’s principal operations are in Internet platforms, pay-television and the provision of related technologies and print media.
It holds a 30% in Chinese Internet giant, Tencent (owner of WhatsApp competitor, WeChat), as well as in Russian Internet group, Mail.ru.