Fantastic news for Greenlit’s Homewares Assets

1 February 2023




Greenlit Brands, the owner of retail stores Fantastic Furniture, Freedom and Snooze has booked millions of dollars in restructuring expenses in the wake of supply chain shocks and rising costs caused by the pandemic.

But a timely sale of its furniture chain, Plush-Think Sofas, and a doubling of earnings by Fantastic kept it highly profitable in 2022.

The improving profitably and overall sales growth for Australian retail conglomerateGreenlit Brands was also fuelled by strong online sales by its furniture businesses andthe continued turnaround of Freedom.

However, the furniture retailer cautioned that higher interest rate and inflationary pressures endured, and although these were being partially offset by a normalising of ocean freight and global supply chains, there were challenges ahead for consumer and discretionary spending.

Greenlit said it was beginning to see some early indications of a slowdown in consumer confidence and spending as household budgets came under pressure.

Latest accounts lodged with the corporate regulator show the sale of Plush to rival furniture retailer Nick Scali last year for $103m helped Greenlit Brands to pay $140m in dividends to its cash-strapped and scandal-ridden South African parent company, Steinhoff International.

In 2017, Steinhoff International shocked markets around the world with an Enron-like financial scandal involving top executives who had overstated profits for several years by as much as $US7.4bn, using fictitious transactions and outright fraud. Its share price quickly collapsed and the entire company, which has more than 40 retail brands across 30 counties including Australia, almost failed.

Greenlit Brands, which recently spun out key business Fantastic Furniture into its own holding company as a possible prelude to a sharemarket float, witnessed a profit lift for Fantastic Furniture in 2022. This business also paid $30m in dividends in late 2021 to Steinhoff.

That took the total dividends paid to Steinhoff by its Australian offshoots (Greenlit and Fantastic) to $170m – a welcome capital injection to the teetering international retail conglomerate that almost collapsed in 2017 due to a fraud scandal.

It was also a testament to the growing financial and independent balance sheet strength of its local retail businesses, despite Covid-19 upheavals.

In twin sets of accounts lodged with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Greenlit Brands has given a glimpse into the performance of its retail arms, led by continued sales and profit growth at the Fantastic Furniture chain.

Combined accounts for Greenlit Brands and the holding company which owns Fantastic Furniture report combined revenue of $1.2bn for the 12 months to the start of October 2022 – up 3 per cent on 2021 with total combined profit from continuing operations of $14.7m.

When the proceeds from the sale of Plush-Think were added, the combined profit was $112.3m.

Total combined online sales were $274m for the retail chains, representing a market- leading result of 23.4 per cent of sales. Online sales were 3 per cent lower compared with the previous year, reflecting a return of shoppers to bricks-and-mortar stores.

“Our strong financial results for 2022 are a testament to the quality of our brands, the capability of our people and the resilience of our business models against the backdrop of disruption to global supply chains, significantly increased costs of ocean freight and further COVID-19 related volatility,” Greenlit Brands chief executive and Fantastic Furniture chairman Michael Ford said.

“The progress we made against our strategic priorities, and the strength of our balance sheet gives us the confidence to continue to invest and grow our businesses.”

Mr Ford said Greenlit Brands and Fantastic Furniture continued to be debt free and had net cash of $73m after the repayment of dividends.

But he wasn’t rushing an IPO or sale of the businesses.

“We are not in a rush to transact our businesses. We continue to evaluate opportunities from a position of strength.”

The latest accounts for the Fantastic Furniture holding company shows it posted a 73 per cent leap in revenue to $571m for the 12 months to October 2022 and net profit doubled to $23.63m.

The Greenlit Brands accounts reveal sales of $601m, up from $562.54m in 2021. The company recorded a loss from continuing operations of $6.984m. However $110.6m in gross funds from the sale of Plush to Nick Scali helped it post a net profit of $91.17m for the year, although that was down from a profit of $158.43m in 2021.

In 2019, when the Greenlit accounts included the Fantastic business, it recorded a loss of $163.958m following a massive restructure and divestment of some of its businesses.

Group chief operating officer Aaron Canning told The Australian trading for the start of the new year was strong, but mounting economic headwinds were likely to restrict consumer spending.

“We continue to perform in line with our expectations after the first quarter of trading ending December 2022, but we are beginning to see some early indications of a slowdown in consumer confidence and spending,” Mr Canning said.

“The burden of higher interest rates and inflationary pressures remain, although these pressures are being partially offset to a lesser extent by a normalising ocean freight and global supply chains.

“We remain cautiously optimistic about the next six months, but we do expect some further headwinds to dampen demand versus our current year to date performance.”

Despite that cautious outlook, the Australian operations are fast becoming the jewel in Steinhoff’s tarnished crown.

This is partly due to the leadership of Greenlit Brands and Fantastic Furniture by Mr Ford, a respected veteran of the retail sector and CEO of The Good Guys for 13 years before it was sold to JB Hi-Fi.

He was appointed by Steinhoff to run its Australian operations in 2017 – only months before the scandal was revealed.

Under Mr Ford’s tenure as chief executive of Greenlit Brands he has steadied the ship and sold off a number of assets, such as discount department store Harris Scarfe, Best & Less and closed a poorly timed launch of British department store Debenhams.

In June last year Greenlit Brands also sold off its Original Mattress Factory retail business.

Media contact: Justin Kirkwood | 0411 251 324 |

Greenlit Brands Media Release – FY21 Financials

31 January 2022

By Greenlit Brands Management

Steinhoff International’s Asia Pacific businesses, comprising the Greenlit Brands and Fantastic Furniture Groups (APAC Group) have delivered strong growth and performance during the 2021 income year, whilst also making significant progress across several key strategic initiatives.

Speaking on the 2021 results, Michael Ford, CEO of Greenlit Brands and Chairman of Fantastic Furniture, said:

“Our impressive financial results for 2021 are a testament to the quality of our brands, the capability of our people, and the resilience of our business models against the ongoing headwinds of COVID-19, including COVID-related lockdowns across Australia and New Zealand. The progress we made against our strategic priorities, and the strength of our balance sheet gives us much confidence as we continue to invest and grow our businesses.”

Key Highlights and Snapshot.1

• Total Combined revenue of $1.3bn2 for the APAC Group, up 8.6% on 2020, despite COVID related lockdowns impacting Sales across Australia and New Zealand.

• Total Combined operational EBITDA before extraordinary costs of $107.3m3 for the APAC Group represented 15% growth on the prior year.

• Total Combined normalised PBT of $47.4m4 for the APAC Group, up 35% on a strong 2020 comparative representing a 2-year PBT CAGR of 171%.5

• Total Combined online sales of $295.8m for the APAC Group, up 17.7%6 on 2020, representingthe successful execution of a contemporary digital first strategy across all brands.

• Results reflect a significant turnaround in underperforming businesses with all Greenlit Brands businesses profitable and cash flow positive.

• Greenlit Brands and Fantastic Furniture are debt free with significant combined cash reserves of $198.3m and available facilities.

• Refinanced Banking Facilities on improved terms.

• Successfully implemented a restructure of the ownership of Fantastic Furniture.

• Divested Plush Sofas to Nick Scali realising total gross proceeds subsequent to year-end of $110.6m.

• Divested the Group’s interests in the Chinese manufacturing joint venture, and the remaining Fantastic Furniture properties realising total proceeds of $9.6m.

• All businesses prioritised various health and wellbeing initiatives for our people despite ongoing COVID challenges, and especially Delta strain related lockdowns in more recent months. These impressive financial results reflect the effort and resilience of our people during these difficult times.

1 Key Highlights and Snapshot includes combined results and performance of Plush and Fantastic Furniture businesses for the full financial year ended 3 October 2021.
2 From Annual Reports – includes Greenlit Brands’ revenue from continuing operations and discontinued operations Plush Sofas and Fantastic Furniture, plus FFHoldco Pty Ltd revenue.
3 From Internal Management Analysis, on a pre AASB116 basis.
4 From Annual Reports – includes Greenlit Brands’ PBT from continuing operations and discontinued operations Plush Sofas and Fantastic Furniture, plus FFHoldco Pty Ltd revenue, excluding extraordinary expenses.
5 2-year CAGR compares all Household Goods businesses PBT per Annual Reports, excluding extraordinary items.
6 From Internal Management Analysis.

Greenlit Brands and Fantastic are debt free with significant cash reserves and available facilities.

During the 2021 year, a restructure was completed of the ownership of the Fantastic Furniture business within the Steinhoff International Group. While all businesses remain members of the APAC Group, the Fantastic Furniture business is no longer owned directly by Greenlit Brands.

Following the restructure, Greenlit Brands and Fantastic Furniture have prepared and lodged separate financial accounts. For the 2021 year, Fantastic Furniture’s financial accounts include the final seven months’ operations of Fantastic Furniture. The first five months of Fantastic Furniture’s operations in 2021 are included as discontinued operations in Greenlit Brands’ financial accounts.

The restructure allowed the APAC Group to discharge in full its outstanding debt and ensured that both Greenlit Brands and the restructured Fantastic Furniture business had access to ongoing banking facilities on improved terms. The restructure also allowed for an orderly transition of the business in preparation for a future IPO of Fantastic Furniture. Greenlit Brands continues to support and provide services to the Fantastic Furniture business following the restructure.

Significant Turnaround in Underperforming Businesses

During 2021, Greenlit Brands’ ongoing investment in digital and e-commerce initiatives combined with refurbishing the store network and prudent cost management has seen the majority of its businesses contribute increased sales and profits. Greenlit Brands continued to preference a digital first strategy across the brands which has powered growth in online sales from $60m to now nearing $300m over the past 4 years. Such initiatives continue to deliver strong returns for the retail businesses into 2022 and are expected to continue.

Greenlit Brands has supported the investment in the Freedom turnaround strategy over the past two years under the leadership of Freedom CEO, Blaine Callard and a new management team. The investment has included a store refresh program, IT upgrades, and various growth initiatives.

Divestment of Plush

Greenlit Brands finalised the divestment of Plush Sofas subsequent to year end in an orderly fashion recognising total gross proceeds of $110.6m. The transaction allows Plush to grow to the next stage of its development under the ownership of Nick Scali, whilst realising significant value for Greenlit Brands’shareholder.


Following completion of the above transaction, the APAC Group paid combined dividends of $170m to their shareholder.

Greenlit Brands’ Future

Greenlit Brands remains financially independent from its parent group, Steinhoff International.

Whilst Greenlit Brands remains committed to the shareholders direction and ultimately further divestments, there is no deadline set for transacting the remaining businesses. Greenlit Brands will continue to implement its strategic initiatives, and invest in its brands, and people whilst evaluating strategic options and opportunities.

Speaking on Greenlit Brands’ future, Michael Ford, said:

“The financial and operational strength of Greenlit Brands, underpinned by our suite of iconic brands, all of which are profitable and cash flow positive, puts us in a strong position to maximise value for our shareholder. We are not in a rush to transact our businesses. We continue to evaluate opportunities from a position of strength.”

Media contact: Justin Kirkwood | 0411 251 324 |

Greenlit, Fantastic Furniture strengthen, despite Covid impact

31 January 2022

By Robert Stockdill

Greenlit Brands and Fantastic Furniture have overcome “the ongoing headwinds of Covid-19” to deliver strong growth last year, according to CEO Michael Ford.

“The progress we made against our strategic priorities, and the strength of our balance sheet gives us much confidence as we continue to invest and grow our businesses,” he said, releasing the results of the two businesses of Steinhoff International’s Asia Pacific operations.

All of the businesses within the group were both profitable and cashflow positive, reflecting a significant turnaround from the preceding years.

Combined group revenue for the year to December was $1.3 billion, up 8.6 per cent year on year, despite Covid lockdowns impacting store trading hours in both Australia and New Zealand. Online sales surged 17.7 per cent to reach $295.8 million.

Combined EBITDA before extraordinary costs reached $107.3 million, an improvement of 15 per cent over 2020.

Ford, pictured above, said the e-commerce boost reflected the company’s execution of a contemporary, digital-first strategy across all of its brands.

Both Greenlit Brands and Fantastic Furniture ended the year debt-free and with cash reserves of $198.3 million, while the sale of Plush Sofas to Nick Scali resulted in gross proceeds of $110.6 million subsequent to the financial year-end.

Ford said that while Greenlit Brands remained financially independent from its troubled South African parent group Steinhoff International, there was “no deadline for transacting the remaining Australasian businesses”. Meanwhile, the company would continue to implement strategic initiatives and invest in its brands and people, while evaluating strategic options and opportunities.

“The financial and operational strength of Greenlit Brands, underpinned by our suite of iconic brands, all of which are profitable and cash-flow positive, puts us in a strong position to maximise value for our shareholders. We are not in a rush to transact our businesses,” said Ford.

“We continue to evaluate opportunities from a position of strength.”

[This article was reproduced with the permission of Inside Retail.]

Greenlit Brands’ Michael Ford talks turnaround with Inside Retail

2 December 2021

By Heather McIlvaine

In a retail career spanning over 30 years, the global supply chain crisis caused by Covid-19 has been one of the most challenging situations Greenlit Brands boss Michael Ford has ever faced.

“There is less freight available than there’s ever been, and demand has never been higher, so your working capital is enormously at risk because demand is exceeding supply,” Ford, Greenlit Brands’ executive chairman and group CEO, told Inside Retail.

Part of Steinhoff International, Greenlit Brands owns the household goods brands Freedom, Fantastic Furniture, Snooze, and OMF.

“I would say it’s the most challenging [situation] we’ve faced, and unlike apparel, which you can air freight, in the furniture industry, you’ve actually got to get it in containers and ship it because they’re bulky goods” he said.

The global shortage of containers and backlog of ships waiting to be unloaded at ports has resulted in lead times of up to six months for made-to-order furniture in the Freedom business, and while in-stock businesses, such as Fantastic Furniture, have been less affected by these delays, they have seen a significant increase in the cost of shipping.

“Freight rates have gone up over the last nine months by four to five times what they were historically,” Aaron Canning, Greenlit Brands’ chief operating officer, told Inside Retail.

“We hedge our freight requirements. However, freight forwarders and the like aren’t adhering to those contracts, so that’s totally changed the global logistics market.”

Another 12 months of disruption

The rising cost of shipping has flattened off recently, though it’s still well above what it was two years ago, and factory disruptions in Asia have abated, but
Ford believes it could be another 12 months before the supply chain returns to normal.

“When the pandemic arrived, the people manufacturing freight, whether it be ships or containers, reduced their manufacturing significantly, and as a result, we’ve suffered,” he said.

“Our view and the view of our merchants is that 2023 is probably when we will see it stabilise.”

However, while the supply chain crisis has made managing inventory and customer expectations difficult, it has been good for Greenlit Brands’ balance

“We have paid off all our debt, local and offshore, and made sure that our balance sheet and our cash position is strong, and one of the reasons [we’ve been able to do that] is because of the efficiency of working capital in the furniture industry,” Ford explained.

“There’s no local manufacturing, it all comes from offshore, so you have to sell into a lead time, and you have to take a deposit. If you manage that efficiently, it can be cash flow positive, and we’ve found ourselves in that situation.”

Group profit was up 39 per cent in FY21 on revenues with written sales of approximately $1.5 billion. All four brands are cash flow positive and profitable, Ford said.

‘We were on a knife’s edge’

It’s a rapid turnaround from December 2017 when a massive accounting scandal at Greenlit Brands’ parent Steinhoff International threw doubt on its very survival. Steinhoff, which had been funding the local operation (then called Steinhoff Asia Pacific), saw its share price tank from €3.50 to 30 cents in a matter of weeks.

“Immediately I was in front of what’s known as the ‘bad bank’. You have your relationship bankers, then you have the credit [bank], and then you have the bad bank. And it’s like walking into an ambush with those guys,” Ford said.

“They were going to pull our credit line on the 22nd of December, I remember it was a Friday, and we were faced with the dilemma of basically going into administration.”

The business initially received credit terms for just 30 days, then 60 days, before ultimately receiving commercial terms.

“During that period, we were on a knife’s edge,” he said.

Every cost in the business was scrutinised for potential savings and new senior leaders with operational expertise were brought in, including Canning, Freedom CEO Blaine Callard, Fantastic Furniture CEO Kieron Ritchard, and OMF CEO Ian Vann.

At the same time, the general merchandise division, which included Debenhams, Best & Less, and Harris Scarfe in Australia, and Postie in New Zealand, was offloaded to private equity firm Allegro in 2019 to allow the group to focus on its core strength in furniture.

“The number one priority is to enable these brands to perform better than they have historically, so that they appeal to acquirers who will be a great home for the colleagues in those stores,” Ford said.

Investing in technology to continue to improve the brands’ digital offerings is key. E-commerce sales have increased from approximately $60 million in 2017 to $300 million today, and they now represent over 30 per cent of total sales at Fantastic Furniture. Across the group, this figure is over 20 per cent.

“The shareholders’ direction is to transact the businesses, but there’s no hurry. Build them, make them successful, and give us the best possible value. That’sour goal,” he said.

Last month, Greenlit Brands sold Plush to Nick Scali Group for $110 million.

[This article was reproduced with the permission of Inside Retail.]  


Greenlit Brands divests Plush to Nick Scali

4 October 2021

Media Release – For immediate release

Greenlit Brands divests Plush to Nick Scali

Greenlit Brands Pty Limited (Greenlit Brands) is pleased to announce that it has reached agreement for the sale of and purchase of its Plush brand to Nick Scali Ltd (ASX: NCK).

Plush has been acquired by Nick Scali for an enterprise value of $110 million (with $7million cash to remain within Plush on completion) and subject to customary working capital adjustments and a number of conditions precedent. Completion of the transaction is targeted for November 2021.

Michael Ford, Executive Chairman and Group CEO of Greenlit Brands said:

“We are very pleased to have negotiated this transaction with Nick Scali.”

“For Plush, this outcome crystallises the opportunity for the business to grow to the next stage of its development, with commensurate opportunities for employees, under the ownership of a deeply experienced and high calibre retail group, Nick Scali.

“For Greenlit Brands, this transaction realises an asset on behalf of our parent company, Steinhoff International, in an orderly fashion and for fair value.

“Looking ahead, Greenlit Brands remains fully committed to continuing to invest in our people, our businesses and our brands while we continue to carefully evaluate our strategic options and opportunities. The financial and operational strength of Greenlit Brands, underpinned by our solid balance sheet and our suite of iconic brands – all of which are profitable – puts us in a strong position to continue to build remarkable retail businesses and to create value.”

Media contact:

Justin Kirkwood

+61 411 251 324

Steinhoff Asia Pacific rebranding Greenlit
 Household goods retailer Steinhoff Asia Pacific Group Holdings announced it has rebranded as Greenlit Brands Pty Limited, and secured new financing through local banks, to combat the negative image held by parent company Steinhoff International Holdings NV.“The Greenlit Brands identity is contemporary and vibrant,” Greenlit Brands’ group chief executive Michael Ford said.“It encapsulates the fact that we are a broad group covering a variety of segments across both household goods and general merchandise, both in retail and non-retail operations.”Ford notes that the group runs its own manufacturing logistics and supply chain operations to support its retail brands, which cover the good, better and best spectrum of the sector.The group, which owns Freedom, Fantastic Furniture, Snooze and Best & Less, lodged trademark applications for Greenlit Brands, Greenlit Holdings and Greenlit Retail earlier in the year.The name and logo were developed within the Group following a group-wide voting process.
“Putting in place longer term funding arrangements for Greenlit Brands is a major step forward for our Group,” Greenlit Brands’ chief financial officer Michael Gordon said.“This important initiative provides our 10,000 employees, our suppliers and our business partners across all of our respective brands with certainty about the Group and is indicative of the strength and independence of our Group in Australasia.”