Areas and Places

Rawson's Somerset West commercial franchise has 'timed it right'

The Rawson Property Group’s Somerset West franchise, which at the end of 2014 was ranked as the top performing franchise nationwide in the group, has owned a commercial franchise ever since they went into action some years ago.

It was not, however, until January this year that they began to fully develop the commercial operation. “Focusing as we do on the Helderberg Basin, Stellenbosch, Kuils River and Airport Industria, it is clear to us that in these areas there has been an upturn in commercial activity. This is particularly noticeable in the Helderberg Basin, where the forthcoming development of nearly 6,000 residential units will be complemented by commercial, retail and small industrial developments,” says Johann van der Merwe.

This new Rawson Commercial franchise has recently signed a sole mandate to market commercial land for development on the corners of Baden Powell Drive and the R102 towards Kuils River. The project is also very close to the new Sitari residential development. Van der Merwe says that they already have serious inquiries and he believes they will be sold in the next couple of months. The site will be fully serviced.

“The new development’s position,” says van der Merwe, “makes it ideal as a distribution and storage area and it is also well suited to manufacturing in the small mini-factories which are so popular today.”

Van der Merwe has also signed a deal with the Chang Property Trust to find tenants for their 2,000 m2, The Avenues retail and office complex situated in the heart of the Somerset West business district. This, he said, will be the first of the high profile CBD complexes to be upgraded after the CBD has been classified as a special rates area.

The new initiative will result in a stricter control of crime, vagrancy, informal trading, littering and other undesirable activities and will, it is believed, result in local buildings being upgraded so as to attract more upmarket tenants and clientele.

The Avenues upgrade, costing approximately R5 million, will, said van der Merwe, make the nine retail units in the complex a great deal more attractive. His team and Flora Chang, the CEO of the Change Property Trust, believe that the space available will be particularly well suited to upmarket clothing and lifestyle retailers.

At the moment his five person commercial team, says van der Merwe, is signing up four to five leases per month, with an average total value of a lease being R 240,000. The turnover figure, he says, is likely to increase next year.

Although it is by no means the main factor behind their good start, belonging to a national commercial franchise operation which has clients also operating nationally has, says van der Merwe, given him and his team several useful leads and contacts – and the ability to share inquiries and properties with other local Rawson Commercial franchises has also increased the potential to service clients really thoroughly.

Looking ahead, says van der Merwe, “it is far too early to be congratulating ourselves, but I can say that I am more than satisfied with the way in which the new franchise has caught on and I am encouraged by the level of commercial activity in the areas where our team is most active”.