The publicity for Steinhoff’s public listing in Frankfurt had been planned to perfection. In fancy black containers, the world’s second-largest furniture retailer presented its latest collections in a semi-circle at the entrance to the trading hall. A living room, bedroom and children’s room were on display.
In a written press statement, chief executive Markus Joosten highlighted the importance of the occasion: “Today is a very important day in the history of Steinhoff,” he said. The public listing would raise the group’s international profile, he added.
There was just one problem: Mr. Joosten wasn’t on hand for the big moment. His people explained he had neck pains that had made it impossible for him to travel to Frankfurt from the company’s headquarters in Cape Town, South Africa.
If Mr. Joosten had been present, he might have been able to clear up a few troubling things: On Friday, it emerged that Steinhoff’s European headquarters had been the subject of a raid last month by German police and prosecutors. The charge: Steinhoff may have overstated sales for a number of years.