Pepkor CEO Leon Lourens isn’t prone to flashes of emotion.But even he agrees that Steinhoff’s takeover of his clothing chain in 2015 was probably the worst thing to happen to Pepkor since it opened its first store in the Northern Cape town of De Aar in 1965. "In hindsight, probably yes. But Pepkor has been in business a long time, and nobody would have liked what happened to us last year," he says.After Steinhoff bought Pepkor four years ago, Markus Jooste’s company shunted many of its weaker arms onto it before listing it on the JSE in September 2017 as Steinhoff Africa Retail.Even though Steinhoff remains plagued by dark claims of fraud, it still owns 71% of the company.Though Lourens’s company has tried furiously to cut the apron strings (even changing its name), the relationship still leaves Pepkor cast as something of an unfortunate stepchild to a serial killer.But as Pepkor’s results for the year to September illustrate, if you strip away the Steinhoff link, it’s a juggernaut...

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