Markus Jooste. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
Markus Jooste. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

STEINHOFF CEO Markus Jooste was behind the sudden departure this week of JD Group CEO Grattan Kirk, sources said, adding that Steinhoff, which is JD Group’s biggest shareholder, planned to get more involved in the retailer.

JD Group, which owns Bradlows, Morkels, Joshua Doore, Russells, Hi-Fi Corporation and Incredible Connection, had been expected to release financial results for the six months to December this Monday. But the release was brought forward to Friday afternoon.

Henk Greeff, the executive director responsible for strategy and human resources, has also resigned.

Mr Kirk was chief financial officer of the then Connection Group Holdings and became its CEO in 2002 and CEO of JD Group in 2008. He will continue to assist the group’s retail division “with various strategic initiatives” before leaving at the end of June.

Mr Kirk and Mr Jooste are believed to have disagreed on strategic direction but David Sussman, JD Group’s founder, who steps in as acting CEO, denied Mr Jooste was behind the development, saying Mr Kirk’s resignation was voluntary.

Vusi Khanyile, the lead independent non-executive director, will be chairman.

Mr Jooste has had his eye on the JD Group for years and Steinhoff has built its stake to 50.1%.

Mr Sussman is a board member of Steinhoff UK.

It is expected that Steinhoff will put in its own CEO at JD in due course.

Jan van der Merwe, who has worked for Steinhoff, is the new chief financial officer.

* This article was first published in Sunday Times: Business Times