R65m boost for Epping

Trading group Melbro Holdings unveiled its new national headquarters last week, and Western Cape Premier and DA Leader, Helen Zille opened the new R65 million Epping facility.

Premier Zille welcomed the opening of the new headquarters and said: “Despite its prudent macro-economic management, South Africa was not spared the economic fallout in 2009, which resulted in the loss of more than one million jobs. It is therefore encouraging to see local companies like Melbro demonstrating its confidence in the Western Cape’s economy by opening this new building in one of Cape Town’s premier industrial areas, which will help drive economic growth and job creation. This investment complements the Western Cape Government’s Central Regeneration Programme, which aims to position Cape Town as one of the top cities in the world to live, work, study, invest, and visit.”

This investment signifies Melbro’s sustained growth in its retail and wholesale operations. The new building has been developed on the land immediately adjacent to Melbro’s current operation in Epping 2, and consists of 1 200m² of office space and 4 500m² of high-rise warehousing.

With a national total of more than 50 000 m² of warehouse space, housing 8 000 different product lines, including famous international brands such as Wrigleys, Mars, Lindt and Act II and an array of toys, tools, housewares and giftware, Melbro’s product range and geographic coverage is unequalled in the country, says group chief executive, Martin Heneck.

The Cape Town facility is complemented by facilities in Johannesburg, Durban and Port Elizabeth and, together, they enable the wholesale businesses – Heneck Sacks and J Melnick & Co – to service more than 10 000 retailers across Southern Africa.

The building work has been completed within the contract term by Neil Muller Construction. Epping has not seen much construction activity in the past 10 years but this is due to change now that Epping has been named a City Improvement District (CID).

“Building was an expensive option, particularly as we paid a premium for the land. From a production perspective, however, it has worked out perfectly with only minor occasional annoyances from near-zero disruption. We could have rented premises, but we’re expressing our optimism here. And we are optimistic about the country, the local economy and about our business model,” says Heneck.

“The Melbro model originated more than a century ago and though it has undergone a few profound adjustments since then – the biggest change of which was the entry into retailing with Crazy Store in the mid-1990s – there is still much in common between the enterprise as it was in 1911 and as it is today. Crazy Store, which celebrates its 200th store opening next month, is geared for continued, aggressive growth over the next few years and its new stable-mate, Khoki – a stationery store – is also enjoying success with its first stores.”

Melbro’s growth plans also include more house brands, further northward expansion and at least one significant acquisition.