Cape Union Mart has been equipping South African adventurers since 1933, and is South Africa's favourite outdoor adventure store. Stocking everything one needs for outdoor pursuits - including hiking, camping, trail running, mountain biking, snow sports, travel and more - Cape Union Mart is an essential first step in every adventure. Cape Union Mart has stores across South Africa, and in Namibia and Botswana.
The history of Cape Union Mart dates back to 1933 when the late Philip Krawitz, grandfather of the current Chairman, founded the business on the corner of Corporation and Mostert Street in Cape Town. Cape Union Mart originated as an "Army and Navy Store" and became famous for its "everything from an anchor to a toothpick" product range.
Sandwiched between two of South Africa 's largest retailers, Woolworths and OK Bazaars, Cape Union Mart realised that it had to offer something different. Apart from an extensive range of merchandise, the store became known as "the friendly store" and focused on building unique relationships with its customers.
During the war years, Cape Union Mart supplied visiting troops with some of the luxuries and necessities associated with the military. Passing whaling ships and foreign fishermen were also catered for with a unique array of merchandise from around the world.
In the post-war years, the company grew and prospered under Arthur Krawitz who took over the business from his father in the late 1940's. The company became famous for non-seasonal merchandise and specialised in selling summer clothing to people touring overseas in winter. and vice versa. Cape Union Mart was the first importer of many famous products such as Levi Jeans, Hong Kong anoraks, Norwegian socks and Gore-Tex foul weather clothing.
In 1970 the current Chairman, Philip Krawitz joined the business as a third generation family member. The Company began a cautious expansion trail, and have since reached a position where the number of stores is fast approaching 140. All the stores are located in prestigious, high traffic shopping centres.
The Company also acquired the well-known uniform business "Sparks & Ellis" and ventured into manufacturing through the K-Way Manufacturing operation, which is located in Ottery in Cape Town and produces a range of technical foul weather and waterproof adventure clothing.
In 1999, Cape Union Mart launched a new brand of leisure clothing for men and women, Old Khaki, which proved so popular that it was eventually launched in its own set of stand-alone stores, where it operates as a separate brand.
The same process applied with Poetry, an eclectic collection of women's lifestyle products. Launched in stand-alone stores around the country in 2008, Poetry has proven incredibly successful.