To understand why industrial player Distribution & Warehousing Network (Dawn) has been in trouble for the past few years, one need look no further than the country’s struggling mining, construction and building industries and, more recently, agriculture. Add to that a global financial crisis and the lack of countercyclical spend in major infrastructure by SA’s government and you have a trifecta for disaster. In its annual results to March 2016, Dawn posted a net loss of R758m. It has now posted an attributable loss of R637m in the year to March 2017. As a maker of materials and tools for these sectors, including branded bathroom and kitchen fixtures, the company has been buffeted by lower mineral resources prices, foreign exchange volatility and years of political and labour instability. Dawn is a complex business made up of about 32% manufacturing turnover and 68% from distribution. The trading arm of the company manages about 50,000 different product lines. For many years it has b...

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