By Hilary Mare
THE owners of Maerua Mall, Oryx Properties, are looking to modernise the mall, while prioritising extended shopping hours, in bid to adopt a 24-hour retail economy, Confidente can reveal.
The Namibian Stock Exchange-listed company currently has 287 tenants in 25 properties in the country’s retail, industrial and office real estate space.
Oryx Properties Chief Executive Officer, Carel Fourie, highlighted that the competitive online retail environment has forced retailers to reassess many aspects of their business, including trading hours; hence the need to move towards this direction.
“The old practice of shops being open only during working hours, clashes with the 24/7 economy in goods and services that people are increasingly coming to expect and rely on,” says Fourie.
Maerua Mall is currently undergoing a massive refurbishment, to bring its look and offerings up to date.
“The refurbishment was heavily motivated by the desire to create a place for Namibians, to not only have a great shopping experience, but also to provide safe, fun activities to keep the whole family entertained,” Fourie explains.
“Many of our new and upgraded offerings naturally lend themselves to longer trading hours and encouraging shoppers to stay after hours.”
In the retail sector, which makes up 62 percent of the Oryx portfolio, the company owns Maerua Mall, and the Gustav Voigts and Baines shopping centres.
Maerua Mall is situated on the periphery of the central business district, and borders the eastern suburbs of Windhoek, which means it serves largely middle to upper-income families and professionals living in the area.
This is relevant because, as Fourie points out, changes in social patterns also contribute to the need to trade outside of traditional shopping hours.
“People today have more flexible working hours; there are more women in the workforce and there are more single-parent households,” he says.
“Allowing retailers the option to trade when they feel they would serve their markets best, is a forward-looking approach, to meeting the needs of modern families and busy professionals.”
Describing the ultimate aim of extended shopping hours as “a win-win situation for both retailers and shoppers”, Fourie says it shows a willingness to adapt to the needs of our customers.
He points out that extended trading hours are good for employees, who wish to earn an extra income.
It is also good for shareholders, because profits increase, and for government, because tax revenues rise.
Big name tenants at Maerua Mall include Truworths, Stuttafords, Mr Price, Hi-Fi Corporation, Clicks, Foschini, Edgars/Boardmans, Ackermans and House & Home.
Many currently trade from 09h00 to 18h00 from Monday to Friday, 09h00 to 17h00 on Saturdays, and 09h00 to 15h00 on Sundays.
“We have to gain critical mass of willing tenants who want to trade for extended hours, in order for it to make sense for shoppers to visit,” Fourie says.
“Retail is an extremely competitive environment and it’s important for our smaller retailers to realise that adapting to this strategy will be beneficial to them in the long-term.”
The mall, which was established in 1990, is Windhoek’s original shopping centre, and welcomes over nine million shoppers every year.
The phased upgrade will offer everything under one roof, from entertainment and dining to leisure and shopping. Public areas and walkways will be upgraded, in keeping with the new, contemporary look, while a timber-slatted ceiling, with suspended liquid crystal light hoops, will be installed.
The food court will be redesigned over two levels, making space for new restaurants. An outside eating area will offer close proximity to the family entertainment centre.
“We are excited to be introducing a trampoline park, glow-in-the-dark putt-putt, a bowling alley, a climbing wall and more,” says centre manager Thea Thornley.
The mall’s four entrances and ample parking, including dedicated parking for the disabled and elderly, as well as for moms with tots, makes access a breeze.
The mall is named after the trees that surround it. Ringwoods (Maerua schinzii) are a protected species in Namibia.
“The tree is symbolic of sustainability and vitality, and this resonates with our ethos,” says Fourie.
The mall’s commitment to sustainability is evident in its N$17 million 1MWp rooftop solar power plant, which generates about 20 percent of the centre’s electricity. The 1 407MWh generated by the plant, during the 2016/2017 financial year, reduced the mall’s CO2 emissions by 1 128 tons.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015