Disney sets S. Africa subsid

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — The Walt Disney Co. launched a South African subsidiary Tuesday to consolidate its retail business here and explore avenues into the rest of Africa.

The registration of Disney Enterprises Southern Africa marks the international entertainment and franchise group’s first foothold on the continent, said Pierre Sissmann, president of Disney Consumer Products for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

South African base

“The whole idea is to use South Africa as a base to go into the rest of Africa,” Sissmann said. “We don’t know Africa. We don’t know what the potential is. We have a lot to learn, and we are here to do that.”

Ray Botha, managing director of the South African subsidiary, said about 300 million rand ($66 million) worth of Disney products, mainly toys and textiles, were sold annually in South Africa.

Making its mark

Disney has been marketing in South Africa through licensees for more than 25 years, but has not previously had a registered presence in the country.

Sissmann said Disney would be on the lookout for unique cultural and marketing ideas that could be taken from South Africa into new markets.

He said the company would offer management support and the Disney license, but did not expect heavy capital investment in its South African partnerships.

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