Sandton City gets R90m upgrade and SA’s first Hamleys World store

By Suren Naidoo

Sandton City – Johannesburg’s biggest and busiest shopping destination – will be home to SA’s first ever Hamleys World Store and boast a slide for kids to ride straight into the store as part of a R90 million upgrade.

The revamp, aimed at ‘opening up’ the tired cinema section of the super regional shopping centre, is expected to take family entertainment at mall the to new heights. At approximately 2,000sqm, the Hamleys World at Sandton City will be the biggest Hamleys store in South Africa and host a range of other entertainment experiences and activations.

“We are truly excited about this development at Sandton City, that will be anchored by a new, one-of-a-kind Hamleys World Store and Ster Kinekor’s cinema complex,” Jonathan Sinden, newly appointed Chief Operating Officer of Liberty Two Degrees (L2D), told SA Property Insider at the company’s 2017 full-year results presentation yesterday.

An artist’s impression of the new family-focused area at Sandton City, which will include the first Hamleys World store in South Africa at the centre’s level two cinema section. The development is being undertaken at a cost of R90 million.

Sandton City, with about 148,000sqm of retail space in the heart of SA’s Sandton Central financial hub, is L2D’s flagship asset. The SA real estate investment trust, which listed on the JSE in December 2016 as an offshoot from the Liberty Group, is a major shareholder of the Sandton City complex together with Liberty Group and Pareto Limited.

The latest upgrade at Sandton City comes as the centre faces even more competition in northern Johannesburg. Besides Attacq’s new super-regional Mall of Africa in Waterfall, which opened in 2016, Accelerate Property Fund’s Fourways Mall, is undergoing a multi-billion rand expansion that will include Africa’s first KidZania indoor city. Benmore Gardens, a convenience shopping centre owned by Redefine Properties a few kilometres from Sandton City, is also undergoing a multi-million rand revamp.

Construction on the new fun and family focused section of Sandton City is well underway and set to be complete by May 2018. It coincides with the reconfiguration of the massive double volume space vacated by Stuttafords following its demise. Several new retailers are taking up this space at Sandton City.

Sinden said: “The city is changing… It is being transformed into a playground for the whole family, with a new area of the mall being dedicated to family fun, entertainment and food. As part of Sandton City’s level two upgrade, the cinemas are being refurbished and will have SA’s first kids-only cinema theatre.

“We are also adding a new flagship 500-seat Spur Restaurant, which will have a Halaal menu, as part of the family friendly mix. But, there’s no doubt that Hamleys World will be the big attraction and bring this part of the centre to life. Among the innovations will be a slide, from the level four retail section of the mall directly into the Hamleys World store on level two; games area; water features as well as other interactive entertainment for kids.”

UK-based Hamleys is noted as the oldest toy store chain in the world. Sinden said Hamleys already has a store at Nelson Mandela Square. With the new mega store opening within Sandton City, the Nelson Mandela Square store would focus on mums and tots.

Commenting on the development, Amelia Beattie, Chief Executive of L2D, said: “This major investment in Sandton City is driven by innovative, research-backed asset management strategies and is a great way to enhance the overall experience at Sandton City, which is an extraordinary robust asset. Sandton City is once again reinforcing its position as Africa’s ultimate shopping experience by taking fun to an entirely new level.”

Beattie added: “Sandton City’s new family fun level adds another exciting dimension to the ultimate shopping variety and experience on the continent.”