Advice and Opinion Events

Retail innovation in Africa – the opportunities and challenges

Adriaan Otto, General Manager at Cushman Wakefield Excellerate.
Adriaan Otto, General Manager at Cushman Wakefield Excellerate.

Running for its eighth consecutive year, the Africa Property Investment (API) Summit & Expo, which takes place at the Sandton Convention Centre this week (Thursday 24 and Friday 25th August 2017), promises to put Africa’s retail sector in the spotlight.

An exciting new addition to the API Summit & Expo programme, the Retail Innovation Summit will identify and examine the opportunities and challenges currently facing this sector.

Speaking to the opportunities available across the continent, Broll CEO Malcolm Horne believes that the slow economic growth experienced in most African countries will see both investors and developers adopt a more cautious approach when it comes to new developments and investments.

Horne says: “Many of those currently active will also be focusing on smaller centres, between 8,000sqm and 15,000sqm. East Africa, and in particular Kenya, still offers the most opportunity despite concerns about oversupply. This idea is supported by the pipeline of proposed new developments in secondary towns and outlying neighbourhoods in cities, as well as the respectable economic growth which appears sustainable.”

He adds: “It is also likely that we will start to see a shift towards convenience retail and smaller, more tailored centres because of their convenience aspect.”

Horne believes that while mixed-use developments incorporating retail have not yet gained traction, this fairly new concept will become more popular with a few of these projects currently in the pipeline in Botswana, Ghana, Mozambique and Zambia.

Gerhard Zeelie, Head of Real Estate Finance for Africa Regions at Standard Bank, notes: “The Two Rivers development in Nairobi is the first development outside South Africa of this scale and also a mixed-use development. The node seems to be attractive for corporates and consumers and it will be interesting to see how this development matures.”

Zeelie also concedes that while a number of key cities may already have enough retail space, a growing demand could see additional cities looking at developing retail further in the future.

Adriaan Otto, General Manager at Cushman Wakefield Excellerate, also sees potential for retail opportunities in countries like Cameroon and Ivory Coast, specifically to build regional shopping centres.

“Francophone Africa is generating a large amount of interest at this present moment and we believe great opportunities for regional centres exist.  In more saturated markets such as Ghana, Kenya and Zambia the opportunity presents itself more in the form of convenience and neighbourhood centres”.

Otto also believes that Free Wi-Fi in shopping centres will become a growing trend, based on the many benefits it offers to shoppers and property owners alike.

“Free Wi-Fi ensures that shoppers spend more time in the centre but it is also an excellent analytics tool for the property owner. Trends such as dwell areas, time spent in locations, direction of traffic and more can be seen and analysed and used to the owners advantage,” he says.

This Retail Innovation Summit is just one of many highlights for this year’s API Summit & Expo, which will see participation from over 35 countries, with 600 delegates and 250 companies attending, offering a programme aimed at providing a wide range of key insights, robust discussions and infinite networking opportunities.

The main sponsor for the event is Broll Property Group which together with its African subsidiaries add value to countless investors and businesses throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

Other key sponsors include industry leaders ABSA, Grit, Cushman & Wakefield Excellerate, Export Credit Insurance Corporation of South Africa (ECIC), Standard Bank, Crystal Lagoons, JLL, Profica, Landmark Africa, G5 Properties, and RLB Pentad.  Event partners are Invest Africa, Sagaci Research Asoko Insights, Africa Union Housing Finance (AUHF), the Association of SA Quantity Surveyors, The African Chamber of Commerce in China (AfCham), Town and County Planners Association of Kenya (TCPAK) and the JSE.

Kfir Rusin, Managing Director for API Events, adds: “The Retail innovation Summit is set to be a game changer for both investors and developers looking for new opportunities in Africa as we highlight and unpack a number of key trends across the continent.”