Clothing retailer Edgars Consolidated Stores (Edcon) has bought the Topics clothing chain for an unspecified sum.

The chain, which was sold by a consortium led by Tuan Marais and Leonard Abel (ex-owners of Topics subsidiary Ivano), has closed approximately 30 poorly performing stores since 2001.

Finanical details of the acquisition are unknown, but Edcon revealed that Topics was bought at a discount to net asset value and that the deal was settled in cash.

It added that Topics' turnover, totalling over R320 million, amounted to under 2.5 per cent of Edcon's, and that the purchase price was immaterial to Edcon's trading results.

Analysts believe the chain may have fetched around R50m.

Topics was owned by Wooltru before it was sold at the end of 2001 for R15m to Marais and Abel.

Edcon said that Topics' 125 stores were in locations suitable for expansion, and that the stores would be kept in their present format while the company decided which to convert to one of Edcon's other trading formats.

Topics staff will either be kept on at the chain, or offered alternative employment elsewhere in Edcon.

The acquisition remains subject to approval by the competition authorities.

Edgars Consolidated Stores (Edcon) is a South African-based retail company  with more than 700 stores throughout South Africa in which it sells mainly apparel and footwear.