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Tuesday, 05 December 2023 11:46

South Africa mourns the loss of corporate giant Eric Ellerine.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Photo Credit: Russell Roberts.

South African businessman, investor and founder of Ellerine Furniture Company, Eric Ellerine, has passed away at the age of 90.

This sad news has been confirmed by close family friends, who reflected on the significant impact and indelible legacy he left on South Africa's business landscape.

In 1950, at the age of 16, Ellerine embarked on an entrepreneurial journey that would shape South Africa's business landscape. With just R2000 in savings, Ellerine founded the first Ellerines store in Cyrildene, Johannesburg. Joined by his younger brother — Sydney two years later — the Ellerine brothers set the stage for a transformative journey.

The turning point for Ellerines came in 1969 when the company became a listed entity on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Over the following five decades, the Ellerine brothers transformed Ellerine Holdings into one of leading furniture retailers.

Upon their retirement from active management in 2000, Ellerines comprised hundreds of stores across Southern Africa, organized into five store brands catering to various 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, Ellerine established the Eric Ellerine Trust as his family office, focusing on Johannesburg Stock Exchange investments, property, and private equity — the trust owns iconic properties like Canal Walk in Cape Town, The Glen in Johannesburg, and the Fourways Crossing Centre.

Ellerine's daughter, Dionne Ellerine, now manages the family office, overseeing a diverse portfolio that includes Canal Walk Shopping Center, Fourways Crossing Center, The Glen Shopping Centre, and the 35 Lower Long Office Building (Cape Town CBD).

The passing of Ellerine signifies the end of an era, prompting a reflection on the mark he left on South Africa's business scene. His legacy, shaping the nation's furniture retail industry, will be remembered for generations, contributing significantly to economic growth.

The news of his passing sent ripples across the nation, with many expressing their condolences. His life mirrored the growth of South Africa's economy and his passing is indeed a significant loss to the country.