Five years ago, Steinhoff was small fry. Its revenue of €3.8bn was not even enough to place it among the world’s 250 biggest retailers. Now in the mega-retailer league, the group in its year to September 2017 is on track to generate revenue of at least €20.5bn, a level that would have ranked it 48th in Deloitte’s 2016 "Global Powers of Retail" survey. It is an amazing growth story that speaks of Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste’s unswerving goal of building scale in a global retail market where that is the name of the game. But for the group — which now has a footprint of more than 11,000 stores in 32 countries — it has been a growth story punctuated by recurring bouts of scepticism from the market. In the most recent, between March and November 2016, Steinhoff’s share price was hammered over a third lower and its rating reduced to an unflatteringly low p:e of 12.5. The first bout of scepticism followed Jooste firing the first salvo in his quest for mega-retailer status by acquiring Fren...

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