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Confirmed: Naspers shutting down MIH SA ecommerce sites, focus shifts to Kalahari


Ventureburn can officially confirm that the African division of MIH, Naspers’ online investment arm, is in the process of shutting down a number of its South African ecommerce properties.

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Earlier today we reported that the emerging markets internet and media giant was preparing to shut down a number of its smaller ecommerce properties, including online fashion outlet Style 36, digital camera store SAcamera and baby product outfit Kinderelo.

Most of the sites affected are part of the company’s African Internet Accelerator (AIA) programme. AIA was founded in mid 2013 with a majority investment from MIH.

Now however, it is apparent that the site shutdowns are part of a much larger restructuring, which will see large parts of the division shut down, along with large-scale job losses. Those who aren’t retrenched will reportedly be absorbed into larger Naspers properties such as Kalahari.

In an email to Ventureburn, Naspers’ Investor Relations Officer confirmed the restructuring, saying that the company would be shifting operations to “focus specifically on the general e-tail businesses such as Kalahari”.

She also confirmed that the group is considering “closing some non-core brands (such as Style36 and 5Rooms)” and is “consulting with staff”.

According to Horn, the “restructuring will allow more resources to be dedicated to core operations”.

The site set to receive most of those resources, it seems, is Kalahari. According to Horn, Naspers wants Kalahari to “grow aggressively” in the next year.

Kalahari is one of South Africa’s oldest ecommerce properties, having been founded in 1998.

Horn added that the process should not affect other Naspers subsidiaries with ecommerce investments in Africa, including Media24, which is focusing on fashion ecommerce. Its most notable effort on this front is Spree, which the group says is performing well.

She also said that remains “very excited about the future growth prospects for e-commerce” but could not provide further comment on the nature of the restructuring because the staff consultation process is ongoing.

As we noted in our previous article, Naspers (particularly its boss Koos Bekker), is known for showing low tolerance for under-performing divisions and wielding the axe to shut them down quickly.

In late 2011, for instance it shut down the Kenyan and Nigerian versions of Kalahari, with only a brief notice on online classifieds site Dealfish announcing the closures. The Kenyan and Nigerian sites had only launched under the Kalahari brand in October 2009 and January 2010 respectively. Dealfish itself was later scuppered in favour of globalising the group’s OLX brand.

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