“Our tenants continue to benefit greatly from a number of aspects at the V&A Waterfront, including sustained visitor numbers of over 23 million per annum, 60% of which are local visitors,” says Alex Kabalin, newly appointed retail executive: V&A Waterfront.
Despite tough economic conditions, the V&A Waterfront’s retail vacancy rate is less than 1% at the Victoria Wharf. “Our careful selection and management of our tenant mix is crucial to our success and results in some of the highest sales level per square metre in the country.
“There remains a strong demand for space in the Waterfront,” Kabalin says. “Our ongoing business success depends on our ability to adapt to changing consumer tastes and needs, and to be able to offer the customer the latest fashion and fresh new offerings and concepts,” he says.
“A changing economic climate, technological advancements and changes in consumer behaviour, result in retailers contracting, expanding or terminating their leases.”
The majority of leases at V&A Waterfront historically expire on the 31 March. It is around this time that some stores may close to refurbish their shop fitting or to accommodate the redesign of a new tenant. The changeover period may create an appearance that stores are closing when in fact they are either being refurbished or relocated to make way for new tenants and store openings.
“We manage upcoming tenant changes very carefully, to make sure we have the right offerings and adjacencies that fit within an overarching tenant mix policy,” says Kabalin.
The soon to be launched Zara store at the V&A Waterfront, a first in the Western Cape, has led to CNA moving to a prime position near the main entrance, so as to accommodate this incoming, leading international fashion brand. Gerald Darel has moved next to Max Mara, with an exciting new retailer soon to be announced for its old location.
Le Creuset recently opened near Melissa’s and Emporio Leone, and the artisanal bakery and bistro Vovo Telo, will be opening up next to Vaughn Johnson’s, giving Vovo Telo an enviable indoor and outdoor setting. A number of current retailers are improving their offering too.
“Woolworths has expanded by over 200 square metres and will have another entrance into the mall adjacent to Myatt’s and the Table Bay Hotel. In addition, the Apple iStore will double in size and jeweller Murdocks is currently refurbishing its store. Mac, Vida e Caffe and Nine West also have plans for refurbishments in the next few months,” says Kabalin.
The V&A Waterfront is a premier mixed-use property consisting of commercial, retail, residential, entertainment and leisure offerings. This strategically managed mix is one of the reasons why it remains one of the most desirable commercial destinations, with substantially lower vacancy rates.
According to the latest SAPOA office survey, which reported on figures to the end of 2011, the V&A Waterfront office space vacancy rate of 6.7% is the lowest of the prominent office nodes in Cape Town.
In February 2012 the vacancy percentage dropped even further from 6.66% in January 2012 down to 3.19% in February 2012. The V&A Waterfront is fortunate to continue to trade well, even in difficult times.
“We are anticipating trade to be positive in April, given the encouraging feedback from the tourism bodies, the April holidays and our positive trading figures over the past few months,” says Kabalin.
**According to the Statistics SA latest retail figures released on 14 March 2012, South African retail trade sales at constant (2008) prices for January recorded a 3.9% growth year on year (y/y) after an unrevised 8.7% growth in December 2011.