“Secret operations are essential in war; upon them the army relies to make its every move.” – Sun Tzu

Forget Game of Thrones, James Bond, any decent Machiavellian page turner, or even your favourite sport. The most enthralling game being played out at the moment is the David Jones/Country Road/Woolworths South Africa ménage à trios.

On Monday we saw the building of a southern hemisphere retail giant with South Africa’s Woolworths $2.15 billion takeover of David Jones.

It is well documented that David Jones is receiving many times more than its market value , however, the fascinating element is that Woolworths last month offered Solomon Lew, the company’s largest investor, a record valuation for his stake in Country Road, as long as he didn’t block a takeover of David Jones.

Gordon Cairns, chairman of David Jones, described the Woolworths offer for Country Road as a sideshow. He understands that the main game on a global scale is not the current trading being conducted, rather the underpinning foundations of a true southern retail juggernaut being assembled.

Woolworths CEO, Ian Moir, plans to create a retailer to compete with Inditex’s Zara, and Hennes & Mauritz AB, better known as H&M, in the southern hemisphere. The combined group would have had about $6 billion in revenue during its 2013 fiscal year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, giving it greater buying power than Abercrombie & Fitch or Debenhams. (Source: Washington Post 14/07)

The $17 per share offer to  Lew for his Country Road stake appears attractive, and remarkably so, given the $2 a share or so that Country Road previously traded at in 1998, however, I am not sure that this is the main game for Lew. Perhaps having his retail brands supply the retail machine being assembled provides a greater attraction.

This is Machiavellian commerce at its best with still more twists and turns taking place as the machinery assembles to dominate.

Stay tuned as this will only heat up.

Happy fit retailing!