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Consultant gets Gateway moving.

Posted On Wednesday, 30 April 2003 02:00 Published by
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Old Mutual Properties has hired a specialist retail consultant to help retail tenants at Gateway Theatre of Shopping in Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal.

Old Mutual Properties has hired a specialist retail consultant to help retail tenants at Gateway Theatre of Shopping in Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal.

The R1,6bn shopping centre, among the largest in the country, opened 18 months ago. Following the signing of a lease for five of the Foschini brands earlier this month, the centre is 76% full in terms of the number of stores and 86% in terms of lettable space is, says Gateway GM Mike Rodel.

Old Mutual Properties MD Ian Watt says the property developer also intends to roll out the consultation service in other major complexes around the country.

Small traders who are often localised, one-shop operations are a distinguishing feature at a growing number of centres. This trend highlights the need for "a win-win relationship" between tenants and landlord.

"Both parties need to apply themselves to real issues causing difficulties in newer complexes," he says.

The move followed tension between Old Mutual Properties and tenants over "unrealistic" rents and the fact that projected levels of foot traffic did not materialise at Gateway.

Unhappy tenants established a tenants' forum to express their grievances. They believed their landlord and the centre's management had not done enough to promote the centre and boost trading levels, and appointed attorney Reid Corin to argue their case.

Rodel said last week that Old Mutual Properties had appointed retail consultancy Re-solutions in November in a bid to support smaller traders in particular, who merited assistance through difficult periods. He believed it was essential for retailers to understand the dynamics of shopping centres, particularly in their early trading years.

Re-solutions MD Barry Nesbitt says he has consulted 60 of the nearly 300 Gateway tenants, evaluating their businesses and offering advice on how to boost turnover. Many, he says, have "achieved significant increases in turnover" .

When Gateway opened, there were "perceptional problems" between tenants and the centre management.

He says his thrust has been on "helping retailers make their offerings better by refocusing on the basics of retailing and concentrating their energies on operations".

Nesbitt says his role as an "objective outsider" is to keep close to tenants and build the relationship between tenants and centre management.

The next step involves providing tenants with regular reports on Gateway and the national retailing environment to ensure they can compare their business sector within the centre and within the national retail industry.

Corin has complimented Nesbitt on his progress since November, saying he has employed his retail experience to make "insightful assessments of the retail conditions at Gateway", and applauds the landlord's decision to retain Nesbitt .

Graphic Art & Décor MD Arnold Kerr says Nesbitt has reopened "the communication lines between management and tenants", while providing skills training in key areas.

Action Zone MD Norman Halse says the consulting initiative is "progressive", as tenants need help in the ever-changing retail environment.

Business Day

Publisher: Business Day
Source: Business Day
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