Safland was founded in Pretoria, South Africa in June 1992. In the early years Safland focussed on commercial property leasing and later on started to focus on retail property leasing.
Safland started with the development of mainly motor related property and completed its first “in-house” development, the Centurion Auto City (South Africa) in 1999. The first decade of the new millennium saw the company develop properties in Witbank, Centurion and Pretoria North.
In January 2011 Safland relocated its headquarters to Windhoek in Namibia to commence with the development of the Grove Mall of Namibia, Gwashamba Mall in Ondangwa and Otjiwarongo Town Square.
All these properties are currently operational and trading exceptionally well. These developments were followed by Rundu Mall, MegaCentre, Virgin Active @ Steps, 1@Steps Offices, Ballot Place, Town Lodge and Dunes Mall, the last two being currently under construction.
We are proud in our belief that Safland together with its investors, Frontier Property Trust and Nguni Property Fund made a visible difference to the lives of more Namibians than most other in recent memory. Few African countries have the level of access to quality retail that Namibians currently enjoy and it is our intention to build on this.
How do you best quantify the success of Safland in Namibia over the past five years?
Safland developed a total of 140 000m² of retail and commercial space in Namibia, since 2011. The total investment amounts to N$2.8 billion. These investments include The Grove Mall of Namibia, Gwashamba Mall, Town Square, Mutual Platz (bought from Old Mutual), MegaCentre, Virgin Active in Kleine Kuppe, 1@STEPS Office Building in Windhoek, KFC drive thru in Kleine Kuppe, KFC in Ondangwa and the Ballot Place in Windhoek.
The combined turnover contribution from the various investments, to the Namibian economy amounts to N$ 3.3 billion per annum.
How is N$3.3 billion per annum translated to jobs?
That is a total of 3978 permanent jobs and 1 500 construction jobs were created in 5 years.
How are revolutionising the Namibian shopping experience?
To develop retail shopping centres one needs to understand the local needs, aspirations, and very important, the culture of each particular area. All these criteria will have an influence on the design, tenant mix and look and feel of the centres.
Each shopping mall has its own identity, suited for the specific market. After the opening of each centre, we are very strict on service delivery from each tenant. We saw Namibia as a huge opportunity because the local market did not know what good service meant and although we had taken on a tough challenge, slowly but surely, we have been making a dent in the service delivery approach from our tenants.
Our logo “Partners in Property” is not only focused on the investing participants but also refer to our tenant partners in each development.
What excites you going forward?
Variety, Variety, Variety in an upmarket good looking environment.
For instance, our vision with the Grove was to create the biggest variety in retail products, to create an upmarket shopping environment complimented by entertainment for old and young. We most certainly achieved our vision if we look at the success of all tenants and the amount of feet the Grove Mall draws. Variety defines our future.
Expect that variety in our upcoming projects, the Gobabis Mall, Baobab Mall in Katima Mulilo, Oasis Mall in Oshakati, Ilamo Centre in Ondangwa and Divundu Crossing.
The recent economic downturn influenced businesses across the globe and Namibia is no exception, how are you driving business in such trying times and what are some areas of engagements you are getting in with your tenants?
Community centres, marketing, tweeking the retail offerings and again service.
The majority of Grove Mall’s N$1b price tag was invested towards engineering work, take us through the resilience of your efforts?
Although not unique to shopping centres, the Mall of Namibia was designed as a multi-storey retail facility with multiple levels of under-cover parking. The design for the retail portion of the building was done as a conventional beam and slab concrete structure and that of the parking area as a post tensioned concrete slab.
The interface between the parking area and the retail did pose some challenges, particularly due to the high expansion rate in the semi desert environment. The electrical engineering designs catered for the back-up of supply by means of diesel generators with only the essential services being backed up by the generators.
The electrical and roof design was also future proofed to incorporate solar energy. Mechanically, the Mall walkway was designed not to be air-conditioned but rather to utilise the “spill out” from the shops. This necessitated careful analysis and a combination of sliding and revolving doors were installed to maintain the cooler air inside the Mall. Another mechanical challenge was the vertical circulation with no less than six sets of escalators, sets of public lifts and goods lifts installed throughout the building.
From a traffic point of view the circulation was analysed and with the input from the local authority, no less than 7 entrances and exits were built with a total of 19 booms to accommodate ticket issuing and validation. The road infrastructure to the surrounding areas were substantially upgraded with five sets of new traffic lights installed and a number of additional traffic lanes in various areas. The Mall is equipped with an extensive network of CCTV cameras and a state of the art control room from where these cameras are monitored on a 24 hour basis.
What are some of the rare and unique features which have not been seen elsewhere in the world and what does it take to put up such as project and see it through?
The Mall of Namibia has an element of style and class comparative with the best malls in the world and the level finish and architectural splendour was certainly a first for Namibia. The parking sizing for both the open and under cover area makes for very comfortable shopping and the tenant mix brought. The key to putting together a development of this size and scale is access to a team of dedicated people not afraid to plan and plan again as circumstances change continuously and on very short notice.
First time tenants to Namibia include: Woolworths Food, Aldo Shoes, Sissy Boy, Levisons, Poetry, River Island, Tom Tailor, River Island, Eartaddict, Earthchild, Forever New, Cotton-On, Guess, LaCoste, Old Khaki, BT Games, I-Store, Gadget Store, Smart Store, Colcacchio Pizzeria, Rocomamas, News Café, Happy Me, Wakaberry, Dischem, Mica Beauty, Obey your body, Coricraft, NWJ Jewellers, Pandora, Frasers, Scoin, Le Creuset.