Investec Property sees good demand.

Posted On Tuesday, 14 January 2003 10:01 Published by
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Investec Property Group says it has benefited from consistent national growth in the local retail sector in 2002 and was forecasting continued successes in 2003.
Investec Property Group, a division of listed financial services company Investec Limited (INL), said it had benefited from consistent national growth in the local retail sector in 2002 and was forecasting continued successes in 2003.

In a press release, Investec Property's Ronnie Sevitz said significant expansion around the country underpinned recent announcements of 3% economic growth in the third quarter of 2002 and the highest confidence levels among retailers in recent times.

'We have seen significant increases in select demand for retail space at shopping centers throughout South Africa, which is quite remarkable considering acceleration in CPIX inflation and four interest rate hikes during the course of last year,' he commented.

'Economic factors such as indications that inflationary pressures could start to abate, a stronger rand and expectations of a decline in the interest rate next year, give us reason to believe that this growth will continue in 2003.'

In KwaZulu Natal, for instance, Sevitz pointed out that in addition to the 70 million rand revamp of the La Lucia mall, a further 6.5 million rand had been committed to accommodate a Stuttafords store.

'When we realized that patrons visit the mall primarily to shop, rather than merely for entertainment, we took the decision to replace the cinemas with a new 1,500 square meter Stuttafords store. Our strategy is to entrench La Lucia as the region's premiere niche shopping experience,' he said.

La Lucia Mall is the single largest shopping center in the Investec Property's Growthpoint property loan stock portfolio, which is a combination of physical properties and shares in other listed property vehicles managed by the group.

At Empangeni, the Shoprite Checkers in a Growthpoint shopping center had recently renewed their lease for another 10 years.

In the Western Cape, meanwhile, Sevitz said that retail growth included the most recent development for Investec - Royal Ascot, a mixed-use precinct incorporating a 10,000 square meter lifestyle retail center dubbed 'The Paddocks'.

The center, valued at 70 million rand, would serve as a convenience retail center to the 1,500 residential houses on the development and surrounding suburbs, offering approximately 44 lifestyle, service and boutique shops such as banks, a florist, and a pharmacy, as well as a variety of restaurants and coffee shops providing magnificent views of Table Mountain and Robben Island.

The Paddocks would also boast a 3,500 square meter flagship Spar, the first of its kind in the Western Cape. Investec Property Group could allocate space within the Royal Ascot precinct for a large nursery, he added, which would accommodate office space and smaller retail shops, like a tea garden and craft centre.

In the Eastern Cape, another property in the Growthpoint Fund stable, Beacon Bay shopping center in East London, was also doing extremely well, said Sevitz, 'Plans for expansion to include an Edgars store valued at 5.0 million rand are progressing. Additional growth in the Eastern Cape was the acquisition of the management of Pier 14 in Port Elizabeth, for which we plan to make necessary modifications and improvements in the new year.'

Finally in Gauteng, one of Investec Property Group's most recent successes, Melrose Arch - managed on behalf of Sentinel Mine Pension Fund - continued to establish itself as a 'place to be' in terms of an up-market mixed use complex, said Sevitz.

'In November, the Kilmanajaro supper club opened its doors and has already proved to be a popular draw card. Toward the end of 2002 the contract for the new executive Virgin Active gym was concluded and will be the first of its kind in South Africa. The hotel in Melrose Arch will open by the end of February 2003 during the Cricket World Cup.'

Elsewhere in Gauteng, the 20 million rand refurbishment of Hatfield Plaza in Pretoria, which included plans for expanding Pick 'n Pay and Boardmans, was expected to be completed this year.

Continuing looking ahead, Sevitz said, 'Lakeside Mall in Benoni, another retail property managed by Investec Property Group, is also expected to have a major take up of retail space, which will necessitate a reconfiguration of some of the stores this year.

'The 7 million rand revamp of Riversquare Shopping Centre on the Vaal Dam, known as Vereening's premier shopping center, was completed at the end of 2002.

In addition to the array of existing stores in this retail center, new stores include Jet, Exact, and Donna Claire, as well as Tiger Wheels.'

I-Net Bridge

Publisher: I-Net Bridge
Source: I-Net Bridge

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