On Mon., Dec. 4, 2023, Eric Ellerine, a leading businessman who ranks as one of South Africa’s wealthiest individuals, passed away at the age of 90, leaving a significant mark on the South African business scene and the furniture retail industry across the continent.
At the young age of 16 in 1950, Ellerine founded Ellerines — a furniture retail empire, starting with a modest £106 in savings. The first Ellerines store opened its doors in Cyrildene, Johannesburg, with Eric’s brother Sydney joining the venture in 1952 and playing a vital role until his passing in 2009 at the age of 73.
The pivotal moment for Ellerines came in 1969 when the company went public on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Over the following decades, the Ellerine brothers transformed Ellerine Holdings into a powerhouse in South Africa’s furniture retail sector.
Upon their retirement from active management in 2000, Ellerines boasted hundreds of stores across Southern Africa, categorized into five distinct brands catering to diverse market segments. These included Ellerines, Town Talk, FurnCity, Bears, Lubners, Geen and Richards, Dial-a-Bed, Mattress Factory, Furniture City, Wetherleys, Osiers, and Roodefurn Manufacturing.
Following the share sale in Ellerine Holdings, Eric established the Eric Ellerine Trust as the family office, focusing on Johannesburg Stock Exchange investments, property, and private equity. The trust now owns iconic properties such as Canal Walk in Cape Town, The Glen in Johannesburg, and the Fourways Crossing Centre.
Managing the family office today is Eric’s daughter, Dionne Traci Ellerine-Hirschowitz, overseeing a diverse portfolio that encompasses the following assets:
Located in Cape Town, Canal Walk stands as a testament to Eric Ellerine’s vision. As the largest shopping center in Cape Town, it boasts more than 400 stores, 7,000 parking bays, a myriad of restaurants, 12 cinemas, and a captivating game arcade. The design, characterized by “Cape Venetian architecture,” adds to its allure.
Situated at the intersection of William Nicol Drive, Fourways Crossing is a lifestyle center that reflects Ellerine’s commitment to quality. Anchored by prominent names like Pick ‘n Pay, Sportsmans Warehouse, Viva Gym, Mr. Price Sports, Apparel, and Cotton On, it offers over 90 unique stores with 24-hour security and easy accessibility from major highways.
3. The Glen
In Johannesburg South, The Glen Shopping Centre, positioned off the N12 freeway, stands as a three-level shopping haven. With its exquisite shopping walkways, indoor and outdoor dining, and views of an open-air garden terrace, it represents Eric Ellerine’s dedication to creating immersive retail experiences.
4. 35 Lower Long Office Building (Cape Town CBD)
This elegant 86-meter glass-clad office tower is in Cape Town’s Central Business District. Developed by Abland Property Developers and designed by dhk Architects, the building features a distinctive, non-orthogonal design and contributes to Cape Town’s skyline.
Through entities like Ellwain Investments (Pty) Ltd, Ellvest Proprietary Limited, and Ellerine Group Investments Proprietary Limited, the Ellerine family holds a substantial 64.59 percent stake in JSE-listed Newpark REIT Limited. Valued at R290.6 million ($15.5 million), this investment underscores the family’s commitment to a diverse real estate portfolio, focusing on mixed-use, office, retail, and industrial properties.
As a Limited Partner and anchor shareholder of Capricorn Capital Partners, the Eric Ellerine Trust played a pivotal role in this South African private equity firm. With a specialization in financial services providers, Capricorn’s portfolio includes significant investments in companies like Izwe Saving and Loans, Westbrooke Alternative Asset Management, and Prime Meridian Direct.
Eric Ellerine held a significant 9.52 percent stake in Sabvest Capital Limited. Listed on the JSE in 2020, the company focuses on industrial and service businesses, engaging in various investment activities, including finance advances and holding listed debt, equity, and cash portfolios. Ellerine’s stake in Sabvest Capital is valued at R267.5 million ($14.1 million), reflecting his strategic prowess in diverse investment portfolios.