Busi­ness on the move

Wimpy off to R72, mall set for a multi-mil­lion re­vamp

Talk of the Town - - Front Page - JON HOUZET

EVEN amid an eco­nomic down­turn, things are look­ing pos­i­tive on the busi­ness front in Port Al­fred, with a multi-mil­lion rand re­vamp hap­pen­ing at Her­itage Mall and sev­eral busi­nesses on the move – and new ones open­ing around town.

Guests at the Sun­shine Coast Tourism (SCT) net­work­ing evening held at MyPond Ho­tel on Tues­day evening heard all about the lat­est de­vel­op­ments.

At the event, SCT vice-chair­man Wouter Hensens also re­vealed that the SCT man­age­ment com­mit­tee had been work­ing on a tourism mar­ket­ing strat­egy and in­vited in­put from stake­hold­ers af­ter the pre­sen­ta­tion.

The over­ar­ch­ing strengths of the area were iden­ti­fied as the beau­ti­ful nat­u­ral re­sources, the wide range of tourism ac­tiv­i­ties, ex­cel­lent value for money and the large num­ber of ac­com­mo­da­tion venues – 85, with a to­tal of 900 rooms and 2 400 beds.

Port Al­fred Wimpy owner Den­nis White was asked to speak about Wimpy’s im­pend­ing move to the old Beavers build­ing.

“There’s no more doubt – Wimpy is mov­ing,” White said with a smile.

He said Fa­mous Brands, the Wimpy brand owner, had com­pelled him to move the restau­rant.

“The brand wants the tran­sient trade,” White said, which is a sure thing at their new lo­ca­tion on the R72.

As for how the busi­ness had been do­ing, he said: “It’s been a case of sur­vival as it’s been for a lot of busi­nesses.

“But I was happy at Her­itage Mall. It’s been like a home to me for 15 years”.

White thanked their pre­vi­ous land­lord at Her­itage Mall for al­low­ing Wimpy to stay on, on a month-to-month ba­sis af­ter their lease ended. He also con­firmed that “Mugg & Bean is not com­ing to where I am now. They are part of Fa­mous Brands and we’d know it by now”.

He ex­pressed con­fi­dence in their new land­lord at the Beavers build­ing. “They will add value to town”.

Tak­ing a ques­tion from the floor about the avail­abil­ity of park­ing at their new lo­ca­tion, he

as­sured all there would be suf­fi­cient park­ing, as some old sheds had been re­moved at the back of the com­plex.

Port Al­fred Pick n Pay man­ager Rus­sell Shel­ton spoke about the re­vamp hap­pen­ing at Her­itage Mall and to Pick n Pay it­self.

“First off, we’ll be sore to lose Den­nis at Her­itage – I don’t know where my of­fice will be,” he said with a chuckle.

He said two sup­port col­umns were be­ing erected in Pick n Pay’s for­mer stor­age space at the back of the store, to al­low for an­other floor which will be­come their new stor­age space.

In the mean­time, the store has had to use stor­age in the in­dus­trial area and more mer­chan­dis­ers were on the floor dur­ing the re­vamp process.

The cig­a­rette kiosk and cus­tomer care will be lo­cated in an ad­di­tion to the front of the store and about 330m2 is be­ing added to the shop’s floor space, with wider aisles and more tills. “Hope­fully this will hap­pen with­out too much dis­rup­tion to our cus­tomers,” Shel­ton said.

As for the mall it­self, he said the own­ers, West­ern Group Prop­er­ties, were un­der­tak­ing an up­grade worth mil­lions of rands, with the end re­sult that Her­itage Mall “will look more like the malls you see in Port El­iz­a­beth, with sunken lights and lot of steel”.

Cus­tomers will al­ready have no­ticed al­ter­ations and ad­di­tions to the for­mer con­sult­ing rooms of Dr Alf Grim­beek. “I’m not privy to say who is mov­ing in there but there will be a cof­fee shop and pos­si­bly a doc­tor mov­ing in,” Shel­ton said.

He said the mall re­vamp should be com­plete by the be­gin­ning of Novem­ber, af­ter which Pick n Pay would work on its own re­vamp.

About five park­ing bays will be lost, but the mall al­ready had ad­di­tional park­ing in the car park across Bis­cay Road, he said.

Owner of the old Spur build­ing in the Port Al­fred small boat har­bour, Stu­art Boucher, spoke briefly about the new tenant mov­ing in there af­ter it had been stand­ing va­cant for more than a year.

“Some will say I don’t own the build­ing in ques­tion,” he laughed.

The new tenant has moved in and could open some time this month.

Boucher said the idea was that it be like the le­gendary Bar­na­cles, which used to oc­cupy the space many years ago. “Let’s make Bar­na­cles great again!” he said.

Pic­ture: JON HOUZET

THINGS ARE LOOK­ING UP: Chair­man of Sun­shine Coast Tourism Rick Pryce, left, and Port Al­fred Wimpy owner Den­nis White talked about de­vel­op­ments on the busi­ness front at a tourism net­work­ing meet­ing on Tues­day night

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