The retail environment in South Africa continues to undergo enormous transition due to the ever-growing impact of technology, rising costs and economic downturn.
Amid all this change, Mica Hardware continues to prosper from the evolution and growth of another phenomenon: the Do-it-Yourself marketplace.
“Mica is South Africa’s leading expert in Do-it-Yourself and Hardware Brands in South Africa,” states the company website. “Specialising in quality products in an all encompassing range of products for every home improvement job, Mica is the only convenient place to go for expert advice and assistance. Mica is the Number 1 Home Improvement Brand – South African consumers’ brand of choice,” it continues.
The company is one of the largest hardware groups on the Continent and operates in excess of 140 stores in South Africa. Mica is member owned and is managed by a small team of retail experts who provide extensive support through training, marketing, financing, merchandise and store development. It is a business model that has proved highly successful, as the corporate website acknowledges:
“The Mica format is based on voluntary trading which allows for ease of buying and the stimulation of entrepreneurial flair and decision making at store level. With the backing of over 260 National Supply Partners that allow for the best value to shelf for the member in everyday quality hardware products that make the members more profitable and able to deliver the best to their customers at a relative market price.
“We have the best experience and knowledge in the business.
“We offer incredible deals on all DIY and Hardware supplies and much more! We stock over 12,000 items in each Mica store and depending on size this can grow up to 24,000 in our larger Mica stores. Not only do we have everything you need, but we are the “around-the-corner” community hardware store situated close to you!
“We employ experts in our stores as we live by our motto… let us show you how! Our teams are knowledgeable about the products they sell and can assist you with your DIY and hardware queries.
“We believe in bringing top quality brands that are local and function appropriately in the South African conditions.
“Not only are we quality conscious, we understand that our customers are also cost conscious… so to give our customers a quality cost effective alternative in our business, Mica is proud to introduce our house brands. Strategically positioned through the hardware and seasonal ranges, Razor, Escape, Elements, Basix and Colour Co, Mica’s exclusive house brands bring you a wider range of products to choose from, no matter what the job you are busy with!”
Customer service and quality products are key elements to building and maintaining a strong client base but Mica’s success is also built on adapting its operations to the changing retail environment.
“Mica strives to continually re-engineer and innovate, to be at the forefront of new developments in the retail hardware industry and thereby maximise the overall benefit of the Mica Group to all of the Mica stakeholders,” says the company website.
The business runs a completely transparent operating structure and flat management design to ensure that all of its members are continuously aware of changes and developments within the company and to affect swift decision making.
Mica Holdings is responsible for the Mica Trademarks and intellectual property and is run by 4 directors. These positions are reviewed annually by means of a democratic voting process to ensure efficient and effective control of the business.
The financial performance of the business is reviewed on a monthly basis by Mica Investments, the operational company which is managed according to all the Rules and Regulations of Corporate Governance and is represented by the National Executive Committee (NEC) comprising of 4 Mica Holdings Directors, 4 elected members from the Mica store base.
Having undergone a detailed Marketing Assessment, each member contributes to his specific marketing requirements plus 40 per cent which goes towards branding and other high level Mica Brand initiatives.
“These costs and relative income are transparent and are reviewed on an ongoing basis and in the instance that possible savings may be achieved these savings are passed directly onto the member automatically. All member and supplier marketing income / rebates goes into direct expenditure on the Mica Brand therefore Mica Members pay no royalties and there are no other hidden costs,” states the website.
Quality is of paramount importance to Mica Hardware and management of this stretches back through the supply chain, with all of Mica’s Preferred Suppliers graded to ensure maximum support for the supplier whilst ensuring the member remains competitive and is able to offer their customers the correct assortment of products.
The members’ throughput is closely monitored on a monthly basis and where opportunities are identified in order to continually improve supplier performance or loyalty which in turn has increased supplier loyalty to Mica.
In 2013 Mica Hardware celebrated its 30th anniversary and made the following statement via its Midlands Mica Hardware store:
“Founded back in 1983 on the promise to bring a community hardware store to every town, Micahas steadily proven itself as the hardware brand of choice in the South African market by capitalizing on our ability to offer superior service and expert advice. Mica values the power of the entrepreneur and each individual Mica Store Owner’s flair for their market. For 30 years Mica has strived to better serve its community, bringing the very best deals to our customers. Mica has provided the forum where store owners, staff and suppliers all work together for a common cause and that is to best service the communities in which we operate and offer a unique product advice service, expert knowledge and top quality products.
From paint and power tools, hand tools and tool boxes to garden, pool, outdoor, braai and electrical products, Mica is proud to be in a position to offer our customers a wide range of products and brands that has been tried and tested in our 30 years of hardware retail in Southern Africa.
Mica has been there to help families build and improve their homes, to help other businesses become prepared for their tasks and services and to bring communities closer through construction, home improvement and social responsibility. October 2013 celebrates this momentous occasion in Mica’s life and is marked with great promotional deals for the customers and a customer competition to win a Polo Vivo when shopping in any one of the Mica Stores.”
With operational excellence still very much at the core of the business, Mica Hardware is set for another 30 years of successfully supplying one of the nation’s passions.