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Steinhoff's Q1 revenue falls, scandal hits working capital

The multinational retailer has been fighting for survival after it discovered accounting irregularities in December which sparked a sell-off that wiped more than $10 billion off its market value.

Steinhoff's offices in Stellenbosch. Picture: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa’s Steinhoff International, which has been embroiled in accounting irregularities, said on Wednesday its first-quarter retail revenue had fallen and its working capital “had dried up” since the scandal broke.

The multinational retailer has been fighting for survival after it discovered accounting irregularities in December which sparked a sell-off that wiped more than $10 billion off its market value and led to multiple investigations globally.

The retailer said revenue for the period to end-December fell by 5% to €4.86 billion.

“The group’s essential working capital, especially in its businesses outside of South Africa, largely dried up as the access of our operating businesses to their banking facilities and other credit lines was severely constrained,” the company’s acting chairwoman Heather Sonn said in a statement.

Steinhoff was “working hard to uncover the truth and to prosecute wrongdoing” and was also cooperating with regulators, she said.

The company also said many of its international business, particularly its European business, were at risk of failing to meet their financial obligations.

The firm warned in January that it will have to restate its 2015 accounts and maybe earlier figures, having already cautioned on its 2016 numbers.

A review being carried out by auditors PwC suggested that accounting irregularities may stretch beyond 2015.

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