Cur­tain raised on re­tail colos­sus, Mall of Africa Big size. Big in­vest­ment. Big shop­per numbers and job op­por­tu­nity ex­pec­ta­tions. Can this iconic mall de­liver?

Finweek English Edition - - THE WEEK - Editorial@fin­week.co.za

hias t been years in the mak­ing but the R5bn, 130 000m2 su­per-re­gional mall, Mall of Africa, lo­cated within Water­fall City in Midrand, is fi­nally a re­al­ity. It’s an im­mense de­vel­op­ment – a to­tal con­struc­tion area of 550 000m2 – and the largest sin­gle-phase mall de­vel­op­ment in South Africa, equiv­a­lent to around 78 rugby fields. Yet con­struc­tion took just 36 months to com­plete. And should its al­ready mam­moth size not be big enough to cater to mar­ket de­mand, the mall can be ex­tended by a fur­ther 25 000m2.

The iconic mall is owned by JSE-listed cap­i­tal growth fund At­tacq Lim­ited (80%) and At­ter­bury Prop­erty (20%). Cost­ing a whop­ping sum of around R3.8bn to con­struct, the de­vel­op­ment is now val­ued at R4.9bn, says At­tacq CEO Morné Wilken.

Ac­ces­si­bil­ity to this su­per-re­gional mall was cru­cial if the ex­pected num­ber of shop­pers was to be re­alised. For this pur­pose prop­erty de­vel­oper At­ter­bury un­der­took ma­jor road up­grades around the de­vel­op­ment to make it eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble, in­clud­ing build­ing a bridal veil bridge that cre­ates a di­rect link be­tween Midrand and Water­fall City.

The vi­a­bil­ity of an­other shop­ping mall may be ques­tioned but the Mall of Africa ben­e­fits from be­ing an in-fill de­vel­op­ment; ev­ery­thing else al­ready hav­ing de­vel­oped around it. And its lo­ca­tion puts this colos­sus in an im­me­di­ate catch­ment area of in ex­cess of 100 000 house­holds.

That house­hold num­ber is likely to in­crease. Apart from hous­ing de­vel­op­ment in sur­round­ing ar­eas and within Water­fall City it­self, at the of­fi­cial open­ing Gaut­eng Premier David Makhura said that 15 000 houses for low- and mid­dle-in­come earn­ers will also be built in Midrand.

The Mall of Africa, said the premier, is the main an­chor of the Water­fall City CBD and is an im­por­tant part of the move­ment to trans­form the land­scape and econ­omy of Gaut­eng, fur­ther point­ing out that in­vest­ment by pri­vate busi­ness into the prov­ince not only grows the prov­ince’s econ­omy, but also ad­dresses the fun­da­men­tal is­sue of job cre­ation. “To­day 4 500 jobs have been cre­ated just with the open­ing of the Mall. The PwC head of­fice tower will cater for an­other 3 500 peo­ple,” he said. By 2018 there will be up to 12 000 peo­ple work­ing in this in­ner part of the CBD, and by the time the de­vel­op­ment of Water­fall City is com­plete, more than 60 000 peo­ple will be work­ing here. The mall fea­tures two re­tail lev­els with a race­track de­sign around the cen­tral court to en­sure ef­fec­tive move­ment. And to bring an as­pect of unique­ness to the mall, Wilken says pas­sages were made wider, shop front heights in­creased and sky­lights in­stalled for nat­u­ral light. Apart from lo­cal ten­ants like Wool­worths, Check­ers, Edgars, Tru­worths and Game, the Mall of Africa has at­tracted plenty of in­ter­na­tional brands open­ing their first stores in South Africa among them Ar­mani Ex­change, Helly Hansen, Asics, Zara Home, and Mango Man. They will join other favourite in­ter­na­tional brands like Cot­ton On, Ham­leys, H&M, For­ever 21 and Star­bucks. The mall also boasts a Ster Kinekor cinema com­plex with Imax, restau­rants, fast food stores, cof­fee shops and an out­door park. Green as­pects have also been in­cor­po­rated. Half of the mall’s en­ergy re­quire­ments will be gen­er­ated by so­lar power, and rain­wa­ter will be har­vested for use in the public toi­lets as well as for ir­ri­ga­tion pur­poses. But should load-shed­ding rear its ugly head, the mall has 100% gen­er­a­tor back-up power. Fif­teen mil­lion peo­ple are ex­pected to visit the Mall of Africa an­nu­ally, says Wilken. Whether that’s achiev­able given the eco­nomic slow­down and the plethora of other malls re­mains to be seen. It was a mo­men­tous start though, al­most 100 000 peo­ple mak­ing their way to the Mall of Africa on open­ing day on 28 April. RMB Hold­ings ap­pear con­fi­dent of suc­cess an­nounc­ing on 3 May its in­ten­tion to make a 25.01% eq­uity in­vest­ment in At­ter­bury, co-owner of the Mall of Africa.

Half of the mall’s en­ergy re­quire­ments will be gen­er­ated by so­lar power.

A gen­eral view shows the newly in­au­gu­rated Mall of Africa in Midrand on its open­ing day on 28 April.

David Makhura Premier of Gaut­eng

Morné Wilken CEO of At­tacq

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