Teljoy, one of SA's oldest retailers started the new decade with a new CEO
Back in 1969, about five decades ago, things were quite different. There was no internet, tablets, mobile phones, and home computers. Instead, there was the moon landing broadcast through grainy black and white images on televisions the world over. Well, except in South Africa that did not have the ‘luxury’ of the TV. But thanks to a visionary, Theo Rutstein, the young 27-year-old with an entrepreneurial spirit, all that changed with the establishment of Teljoy.
As the very first company to bring a television set to South Africa, Teljoy has grown over the past five decades to become one of the greatest success stories in South Africa. Over 50 years the company has grown from selling television sets through the innovative rent‐to‐own consumer model, to offering electronics, furniture and household appliances through the same model. The retailer, which was one of the very first to adapt to e‐commerce by embracing online shopping about six years ago, has remained a disruptive force in retail and SA business in general.
This year, the start of a new decade, Teljoy is announcing Jonathan Hurvitz as its new Chief Executive. Hurvitz is a registered Chartered Accountant in South Africa. He began working at Teljoy as a Financial Manager, then Financial Director and now CEO.
The new CEO believes firmly in mentorship, which he attributes to the successes he has personally achieved in his career: “I have been fortunate in my career to have had incredible experience in vastly different businesses, with access to unbelievable mentorship along the way, which has enabled me to accelerate my career to where I am today at Teljoy. With Teljoy having such a rich history of success over 50 years, I am extremely grateful to be part of the Teljoy story.”
Although the new CEO is greatly fascinated by the rich history of Teljoy, he wants to create a new narrative for the retailer. “The concept of rent‐to‐own is not new in South Africa, however, not many consumers know enough about it to use it to their own benefit. The fact is that South African consumers are under immense pressure, which can be attributed to stagnant economic growth, ever rising inflation and unemployment rates, and as if this isn't enough, we have some of the most over-indebted consumers in the world. Those who understand rent‐to‐own benefit from it through the debt‐avoidance opportunity it offers. We want every South African to know that there is an alternative to debt and credit‐accumulating hire‐purchase models,” added Hurvitz.
The ambitious CEO plans to expand rent‐to‐own services to other segments of the South African consumer market through innovations that will be announced in the coming months. These innovations will see more consumers use rent‐to‐own goods in the country. “My view is that our current economic climate and the growing trend of ‘renting everything’, mainly driven by the millennial market, makes it a perfect time to expand our offering and reach.”
“Our model works. We boast loyalty from customers who have stayed with us since our very first year ‐ 50 years ago. So, there is absolutely no reason to not introduce some innovation that’ll help us reach more people, especially the younger generation, who (according to research) prefer rental as an alternative to actually buying things. They understand the difference between possession and ownership. They know that they can have the utility of things without owning them. Without unnecessary commitment,s said Hurvitz.
Teljoy has now moved away from having physical retail stores in recent years, to completely embracing the digital world. Its user‐friendly website (www.teljoy.co.za) provides customers with a comprehensive online shopping experience across its range of products. And in this new era, the company plans to further improve its website to make it a fully functional e‐commerce site that is accessible on every possible device, ensuring functionality for everyone.
“We have the technology and the resources. It’s now just a matter of implementation. Very soon, just about anyone will be able to rent whatever they want from our site, using whatever device they have, at their convenience. We want more people to rent. I think anything can be rented, as long as the service provider can provide the warranty and maintenance. And with a brand as strong as ours, anything is possible.”