Picture: BLOOMBERG/DWAYNE SENIOR
Picture: BLOOMBERG/DWAYNE SENIOR

South African retailer Steinhoff on Tuesday reported a €1.2bn ($1.34bn) loss for the 2018 fiscal year, in a much-delayed earnings report revealing the impact of an accounting fraud put at $7.27bn.

Steinhoff, which is also listed in Frankfurt, delayed the results after finding holes in its accounts in December 2017, shocking investors who had backed its reinvention from a small South African furniture outfit into a discount furniture retailer straddling four continents.

The owner of Mattress Firm in the US, Fantastic chains in Australia and Conforama in France said the loss came in at €1.2bn in the year ended September 2018 compared with a loss of €4bn in fiscal 2017, in the absence of huge writedowns.

Segmental operating profit from continuing operations and before capital items rose by 13% to €504m.

"During the reporting period the group and its operating entities had to deal with the consequences of the events at the Steinhoff parent company level. This had a severely negative impact on the group's operational results," the company said in its 328-page annual report posted on its website.

An investigation by auditor PwC released in March found eight people, including former Steinhoff executives, were involved in a complex scheme where potential intercompany transactions worth €6.5bn were fraudulently recorded as external income to prop up profits and hide costs in money-losing subsidiaries.

Shares in Johannesburg-listed Steinhoff, which have tumbled more than 97% since December 2017, closed more than 2% higher.

The retailer has delayed releasing 2017 and 2018 results several times as it waited for the findings of the PwC investigation and audit process of its external auditor Deloitte.

Reuters