RETAIL PROPERTY: Festival Mall Flourishes
Recent Gauteng Business News
Owned and managed by leading JSE listed property company Acucap Investments, Festival Mall’s growth is underpinned by an innovative leasing strategy which has refined the centre’s 150-strong tenant mix over the past three years.
Located near OR Tambo International Airport with easy access from the R21 and other highways, Festival Mall was constructed on the site of a long-standing neighbourhood centre. It opened in 2004 at some 68,300sqm, including anchor tenants Checkers Hyper, Pick n Pay, Woolworths and Edgars. Only two years after opening the centre expanded introducing Game, Mr Price Sport and Ster Kinekor to the mix. This increased the mall to 80,230sqm.
In addition to this major expansion, Acucap has implemented an ambitious leasing plan to refine Festival Mall’s tenant offering to ensure the highest level of relevance and desirability to its shoppers.
“We have consistently experienced high occupancy levels. So, while our consumers have been asking for specific new retailers more geared to their needs to be represented in the mall, it has been difficult to accommodate them. This was challenging given the strong national tenant demand and desire to renew,” notes Sheridan Naudé, Centre Manager of Festival Mall for Acucap.
“We selected our targeted stores by taking a good look at our market demographics, and then considering strong trading retailers serving a similar market. Our strategy was to create a broader and more interesting retail offering by including this specific retailer base,” explains Naude.
The trick has been seizing the right opportunity to introduce new retailers. Naudé explains that the strategic leasing programme at Festival Mall has been more challenging when it comes to identifying the right space, than finding the right tenant. “To create suitable new shops of the right size to accommodate targeted retailers, a number of tenant relocations were orchestrated to enhanced positions in the mall.”
This strategy has reaped impressive rewards for the centre and its shoppers.
It has created a strong comparative fashion shopping node and introduced new fashion retailers the likes of Spitz, Uzzi, Skipper Bar, Sport Scene, FTR, Webbers, Bag Mania and Rage Shoes. Fashion-forward JayJays will be opening at Festival Mall in December 2010.
Adding flavour to the mall’s already comprehensive dining and fast food offering as part of this focused leasing project Old Fashioned Fish and Chips, Milky Lane and Chicken Licken have all been introduced to the mall recently, and Barcelos which will be opening in November this year.
The strategy has resulted in the introduction of three large furniture stores within a one-year period, being Russels, Bradlows and, opening in November, Furniture City.
A number of stores, such as the expanded Totalsports, were also ‘right-sized’ allowing them space to stock an increased variety of brands and diversity of ranges.
“In all cases the retailers introduced are trading exceptionally well, and have had a positive effect on the centre’s turnover, foot traffic and general appeal to our market,” points out Naude. “Over the past four years, the number of customers to the centre has increased by 10%. This is some achievement given the overall decline in foot traffic growth to most shopping centres in South Africa over the last two years as well as the increase in the number of competing new centres in the overall retail market”.
The centre’s performance speaks for itself. “Valued at over R1 billion it is Acucap’s largest retail property asset. It is our biggest contributor to rental income and continues to defy competition and grow an ever increasing and unusually loyal customer base,” says Gavin Jones, Asset Manager of Acucap Properties.
Jones confirms that a significant number of national tenants are eager for larger premises at Festival Mall. “We are currently considering a number of options and have recently concluded negotiations with the Mr Price Group to almost double its Mr Price Weekend Materials store and relocate its Home Store.
There are a few more special retailers on Festival Mall’s target list, notes Naude, which the centre intends to approach in course.
“Our shoppers are aspirant young families who are trend, brand, quality and fashion aware and this is reflected in fashion being by far the most popular shopping category at Festival Mall,” says Naude. “In light of this, and constantly changing consumer demands, we intend to be ahead of retail trends where possible and continue to reflect this in our tenant mix.”
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