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    Conference likely to debate criticism of shopping centres

    With some shopping centres increasingly being criticised by investors, vigorous debate is expected to feature at the 13th African Congress of Shopping Centres next month.
    Last week, one of SA's biggest asset managers and investors in commercial property, Stanlib, questioned the viability of 10 major shopping centres in Gauteng.

    In an internal report entitled, "How 10 Shopping Centres Got It Wrong", a PowerPoint presentation criticises their locations, lack of an appropriate anchor tenant in some instances and inadequate facilities in others. The report does not indicate whether or not Stanlib has investments in these malls.

    The report names the Design Quarter in Fourways, Irene Village Mall, Cedar Square, Atholl Square, Worldwear Fashion Mall, Bedford Centre, Stoneridge Lifestyle Centre in Greenstone Park, Melrose Arch Shopping Centre and Maponya Mall in Soweto.

    It says some of the shopping centres have high vacancy rates because of bad decisions. It is particularly scathing about some.

    The congress, at the Sandton Convention Centre from 16 - 18 September 2009, is expected to see shopping centres and retailers tackle the challenges of the current market.

    Providing access to the latest thinking, innovation and information regarding shopping centre and retail trends in SA, the congress will feature a line-up of presentations and panel discussions by experts, opinion makers and the industry's leading minds.

    Now in its 18th year, the congress, sponsored by Growthpoint Properties, is the largest gathering of retail and retail property people in Africa. The more than 1000 delegates include retailers, shopping centre owners, developers, investors, leasing and marketing agents, store designers and fitters, facilities managers, construction professionals and other suppliers to the industry. It is hosted by the South African Council of Shopping Centres (SACSC) and supported by the International Council of Shopping Centres.

    “This conference presents an opportunity for delegates to learn and be challenged and, by doing so, to improve their business growth and prospects as well as those of the entire sector. We're pleased that by partnering this event we will be creating value for the industry,” Growthpoint Properties CEO Norbert Sasse says.

    The speaker line-up features Phil McArthur, the senior vice-president for India of Canadian-based international shopping centre owner, manager, developer and investor Ivanhoe Cambridge. It includes as keynote speakers Nick Badminton, CEO of Pick n Pay; Eileen Connolly, who heads the UK and European DTZ retail marketing team; Jeremy Gardiner, director of Investec Asset Management; Andrew Jennings, MD of retail at Woolworths; and Andrew Ogg, MD of Leslie Jones, a UK-based architectural practice specialising in retail and mixed-use regeneration projects.

    Also making presentations at the congress are Hugues Witvoet of Edcon, Brian Coppin of Fruit & Veg City, Andrew Callie van der Merwe of Design Partnership, Jan Loubser of Retail Africa and Samuel Ogbu of Liberty Life Properties.

    “We're delighted at the prominent speakers — all experts in their field — who will be sharing their knowledge and insight,” SACSC president Julie Hillary says. “They collectively represent a vast, holistic and very valuable compilation of knowledge, which will benefit delegates enormously.”

    Topics relevant to the prevailing economic conditions are aimed at empowering shopping centres to perform optimally, with themes focusing on retail perspectives, the economic outlook, marketing and customer service, international and local architecture, retail property development and investment.

    Another interesting topic will be tackled by the retail development and investment panel discussion, which will look at how changing retail patterns are affecting the future of investment decisions. Panellists have been selected from investors, developers and funders, including Frank Berkeley of Nedbank, shopping centre owner and developer Peter Behrman, Angus Mackay of Retail Africa, Sisa Ngebulana of Billion Group, Louis Norval of Parkdev and Norbert Sasse of Growthpoint Properties.

    The conference will also feature an exhibition. This is expected to give delegates an opportunity to learn more about other companies in the retail space and to let them benefit from networking opportunities.

    Source: Business Day

    Published courtesy of

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