Orange has denied there is any link between the closure of local online e-retailing website eXpansys.co.za and the France Telecom-owned mobile operator’s decision to partner with eXpansys in the UK to sell electronics goods to South Africans.
eXpansys.co.za was operated by the UK company’s franchise partner in South Africa, Premium Group of Online Stores CC. The website was shut down after Premium Group was served with a liquidation order.
The closure of the website resulted in a flood of complaints on Hello Peter, a consumer complaints website.
According to a notice on the eXpansys.co.za website, Expansys in the UK is “collating all orders and outstanding communication requirements from our customers in South Africa”.
Orange international business development deployment and coordination director Laura Bokobza says the news of the closure of the eXpansys.co.za website is simply “bad timing”, coming at the same time as Orange announces its plans to expand operations in the country. She says the website’s closure has nothing to do with the operator’s partnership with Expansys in the UK to provide the back end of the South African Orange store.
Anthony Catterson, CEO of eXpansys holding company eXpansys plc, which is listed in London, describes the closure of eXpansys.co.za and its deal with Orange as a “most amazing coincidence in terms of timing”.
Catterson says eXpansys operates online stores in 51 markets around the world and the only market where it didn’t have a direct presence, working instead through a franchisee, was South Africa. He says eXpansys continues to be interested in the South African market and says the company has received a “large number of expressions of interest” from local companies wanting to take over the franchise. He says eXpansys must still decide whether or not to set up a new franchise arrangement or to set up a directly held business in South Africa.
eXpansys will fulfil orders for South African buyers on behalf of Orange from its warehouse in London, although the French operator says the parties are considering building a fulfilment centre in South Africa in order to speed up deliveries, which currently take three business days from time of order. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media
- See also: Inside Orange’s SA expansion plans