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I have covered Italtile for 16 years and can say, tongue in cheek, that the counter was always seen as a cash-"flush" property company that happened to sell tiles and sanitaryware. How times have changed, The R6.2bn revenue business has a network of 162 stores in three main brands — the lower-end Top T, the middle-range CTM and the upper Italtile. There are also manufacturing interests via a 21% stake in Ceramic Industries, property and supply chain divisions I wrote about three years ago — after a change of management direction and strategy that had started delivering improved earnings to shareholders — that the CEO had seemingly taken "retail Viagra". The past few sets of results have shown Italtile sharpening its retail pencil, dramatically improving operational efficiency and earnings. Expansion into the affordable lower end of the sector via Top T, competing against the offerings of Cashbuild and the like, has grown Top T dramatically. In recent results, the lower-end segment w...

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