African Outback and Big Country 4×4 have merged. I am not sure how that will affect the 4×4 industry as they (African Outback) no longer have their largest client (4×4 Mega World) as a client. But I still see that there are African Outback products in their stores. Big Country make some pretty nice gear – some of it nicer than AO. So the merger should at least result in improved products. There are also reports, not confirmed, that the Imperial Holdings Group that just bought a share in Safari Centre (see story below) has also acquired shares in this new merged 4×4 equipment company. It looks like the Multi-National is serious about steering this industry.
Opposite Lock, Australia’s large chain of 4×4 retailers is coming to SA. Initial rumours began late last year, and a story spread that they were going to open six stores right away. Latest news, confirmed by OL themselves, is that they will begin with their prime product range to be sold through existing 4×4 stores. Which stores, they didn’t announce. Perhaps they are still working on that one. As a result, Tough Dog, the brand with the biggest Aussie footprint, is about to make its mark in the already crowded 4×4 suspension market.
November 30, 2011
This week a deal was struck between Safari Centre and Imperial Holdings. The multinational has been looking for an entrance in to what is considered by many to be (but isn’t) the lucrative 4×4 accessory market for about a year now. This excludes the Safari Centre stores in the Western and Eastern Cape, which are privately-owned stores and not part of what once was Andre De Villier’s business. I understand that Andre will stay on for a period. In my experience, when a multi-national takes over small companies, so often it means severe regret on the part of the small business owner. I hope for Andre’s sake, this isn’t the case and wish him all the best.
In another bit of shock news, which is a bit older, (about a week), African Outback Products are no longer the main supplier of roof racks, roof tents, and canopies to 4×4 Mega World, after what was I understand was a ‘fallout’, after many years of business collaboration. African Outback has lost their biggest client, and now their products have no real home in South Africa. I also heard news that 4×4 Mega World will be going to China for its roof racks. This news is much sadder than the Safari Centre news. 4×4 Mega World’s decision will deprive South Africans of jobs as they obviously do not consider supporting the local economy as important. From a few months time their stores will be full with almost 100% imported goods. They have an arrangement with Front Runner who are filling the gap until the Chinese arrive.