Attacq entrenches Mall of Africa and celebrates mega mall’s second year

By Suren Naidoo

JSE-listed Attacq Limited’s flagship property asset – the 131,000m²  Mall of Africa – is upping its game to entrench itself in the market with several new stores, events, attractions and tech innovations at the super-regional shopping centre, which marks its second birthday this week.

Mall of Africa opened to huge hype and thousands of shoppers in April 2016, and has been hailed as a great success by Attacq. Speaking during a media tour today, Attacq’s Chief Operating Officer, Jackie Van Niekerk said Mall of Africa was trading very well and achieved turnover growth of 11% year-on-year for December 2017.

“Despite a weaker South African economy, Mall of Africa has performed well and today is home to some of the best performing stores in the country. The mall is only marking two years since opening, but has established itself in the market. We believe it is going to strengthen its position through the growth of Waterfall City and the greater Waterfall node, with the opening of new office buildings and more residential and mixed-use developments. The mall is also evolving and refining its tenant mix and lifestyle offering to attract and retain shoppers across multiple demographics,” said Van Niekerk.

Jackie van Niekerk, Chief Operating Officer of Attacq.

She pointed out that the opening of the landmark 45,000m² PwC head-office tower, adjoining Mall of Africa, had resulted in an impressive foot count upsurge at the mall since January 2018. Major new developments at Waterfall, set to be complete over the next few years and providing a further boost to Mall of Africa, include the 42,500m² Deloitte head office overlooking the N1 highway and Accenture South Africa’s new head office at Waterfall’s Corporate Campus, amongst others.

Mall of Africa is the largest investment yet in Waterfall, a multi-billion rand new CBD and mixed-use precinct being master-planned and developed by Attacq, midway between Joburg and Pretoria in central Gauteng. The mall has shaken up the retail market in Gauteng, competing with established larger super-regional shopping centres like the 147,000m² Sandton City and even 177,000m² Menlyn Park, but also regional centres like Centurion Mall and Woodmead Retail Park, amongst others. Fourways Mall is also one to watch, as it is getting a multi-billion rand expansion that will take it to super-regional mall status and possibly surpass the size of Menlyn Park and Durban’s Gateway – South Africa’s top two largest shopping centres.

An aerial view of the Mall of Africa and part of Waterfall City, owned and developed by JSE-listed Attacq in Gauteng.

Attacq is no doubt keeping an eye on developments at Fourways Mall and Sandton City, which are between 15km and 17km from Mall of Africa. Sandton City has also undertaken a revamp of its cinema level; is reworking the space vacated by Stuttaford with a host of new tenants; and, has just started a multi-million rand upgrade of its food court. Competition between the three is set to peak by December, when Fourways Mall is set to be complete, resulting in three super-regional malls within 20km of each other. The trio will be Joburg’s biggest shopping centres.

Attacq is not done as it also looks to up the competition by boosting Mall of Africa’s retail mix, attractions and technology innovation. While no expansion of the mall is on the cards just yet, it has brought in almost 20 new stores and outlets, and is now 99.4% let.

More new stores at Mall of Africa

The very latest addition that opened this week is a 13-metre-long Nespresso booth, which is said to be the largest kiosk-styled Nespresso outlet in the world. Another new first for Mall of Africa is its Michael Kors store, which has become the brand’s new flagship SA outlet and the first to have a men’s section and full lifestyle range. Other new luxury retail additions to the mall include Emporio Armani, Tommy Hilfiger and Levinson’s, while fashion favourites Superdry, Hurley, Ramsey, Refinery, The Fix and Heely’s have also been added to the mix. Mall of Africa also boasts two new restaurants – Mad NoMad and Tashas, as well as speciality stores like Bargain Books, Toys R Us, Babies R Us, Hatfield Flowers, Maverick & Jane and Tip Top Tailors.

Michael Clampett, Head of Retail Asset Management at Attacq said: “Over the past six months, a host of international and local powerhouse retailers, restaurant groups and speciality stores have come to call Mall of Africa home. The mall’s increase in foot traffic and turnover can also be attributed to the number of new additions to the mall as well as new major corporate offices in Waterfall like PwC.”

Michael Clampett, Head of Retail Asset Management at Attacq.

Clampett and Van Niekerk said there was big demand from other retail brands to come into the mall, but new tenants would be introduced by reconfigurations of existing space, rather than an expansion to the mall. Clampett revealed that SA fashion house MAXHOSA by Laduma would be opening at the mall, but said he could not reveal other names yet. However, Attacq has identified the need for another book store to be introduced.

Van Niekerk said: “Mall of Africa is only two years old, and in the current market we don’t have any immediate plans to expand the mall. While there are more positive sentiments about the SA economy, our focus on Mall of Africa is to deliver the best shopping experience in the current space. Also, we need to be mindful of issues around Edcon and other retailers that may want to reduce space. If this happens, then we would rather be in a position to fill the space swiftly, than have vacant shops in a bigger mall.

“Mall of Africa is dedicated to providing a holistic retail experience that supports tenant ambitions and increases turnover. We plan to continue setting and exceeding global retail best practice, whilst taking into consideration local context.  Mall of Africa is more than a shopping venue, it is an entertainment and lifestyle experience,” she added.

A key objective for Mall of Africa’s marketing team is positioning the centre as “Where Africa meets the World – the true Home of Africa’s luxury”. Clampett said collaboration was a key part of this as well as in Attacq’s interactions with retailers and other tenants.

“Mall of Africa identified and built partnerships with brands that we felt were in line with this and, through these ongoing and successful partnerships, we have been able to bring a number of very successful brands and events to the mall,” he explained.

Mall of Africa hosts Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Johannesburg

Attacq has partnered with African Fashion International, ensuring that Mall of Africa has become official hosts of the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Johannesburg event, which is widely considered to be one of the most important events of the South African fashion calendar. It hosted the event last year and will host it again this year.

Mall of Africa is also currently home to the Julie Miller Investment Art Institute’s Africa’s Art Collective, which is the largest of its kind in the country and includes over 200 art pieces on display in the mall. Furthermore, Mall of Africa’s association with the National Antiques and Decorative Arts Faire (NAADA) has heralded a resurgence in the antiques market. The ‘Faire’ is staged to showcase the best of South Africa’s classic art and décor and provides attendees with an invaluable and memorable art experience.

Van Niekerk said other innovations include plans to start a Park Run event in Waterfall soon, as well as setting up Discovery’s popular soccer pitches near the mall, which will increase feet to the centre and Waterfall node. On the technology side, besides already having a mall app, free Wi-Fi and app-based parking payment, Mall of Africa is piloting a “chat bot” to assist with directions and other queries from shoppers in the mall. However, the big news is Mall of Africa becoming the first shopping centre in Africa to pilot a humanoid robotic helper by the name of Pepper. (More on this in a follow-up story on SA Property Insider)

Mall of Africa is 80% owned by Attacq, with 20% owned by privately-led pioneering property developers and investors, Atterbury Group. Attacq, which listed on the JSE in 2013, currently has a total asset value of more than R28.2 billion and a market capitalisation of R14.80 billion (as at 5 April 2018). Attacq has a quality investment portfolio that includes landmark commercial and retail property investments and a 22.7% shareholding in MAS Real Estate Inc.