Undertaking an extensive expansion programme while minimising the impact on an estimated 24 million visitors per annum is no small feat. In a R140 million upgrade to its Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre, the V&A Waterfront has managed to not only improve its retail trade performance over the nine month construction period, but also increase the number of visitors to the Centre over the same period.
Unveiled on 28 November, the completed expansion includes the reconfiguring of a section of the lower ground level for a new 6500m2 premium Pick n Pay, a pedestrian and vehicular tunnel under a major access road to create a super basement, and an innovative steel structure to hang from the roof trusses to create a link between two existing malls and double volume shop fronts.
Faced with growing demand for retail space and a long waiting list of local and international retailers, the Waterfront needed to innovatively accommodate the demand without increasing its actual footprint, all the while maintaining and limiting disruption to day-to-day trade. The solution was to densify within the current building envelope.
David Green, CEO of the V&A Waterfront said: “Our overall retail strategy has seen a great deal of attention given to refreshing the retail experience, and maximising on the interest expressed by new local and international retailers looking for space in Victoria Wharf.” He adds that this strategy is in place to ensure retail growth while enhancing the consumer experience: ‘’Development work in this case was necessary to increase the gross lettable area (GLA) and improve visitor access and overall convenience.’’
Retail sales performance from July to September is up by 19.5% over the same period last year, and visitor numbers to Victoria Wharf grew by 15.2%.
The GLA has increased by 7800m2 across the new Pick n Pay and the ‘’Cross Mall’’ link . Pick n Pay’s trading area has increased by 45% to 4,300m2, while the 1300m2 retail space created by the Cross Mall development will see the introduction of Witchery and Mimco by Woolworths, and Tom Tailor and Lucky Brand for Edgars as shop-in-shops. Suspended in ‘airspace’ above the existing delivery area, the ‘’Cross Mall’’ link introduces the double height shop front concept to the Victoria Wharf while retaining the design aesthetics of the existing centre. For the first time in its 20 year history, Victoria Wharf will trade on four levels.
The 2,950m2 space vacated by Pick n Pay will be reconfigured for South African brand Mr Price and international success story, Australian brand Cotton On. Both are expected to open in the second quarter of 2014, bringing an element of mass appeal and affordability.
The results from a recent economic impact study indicated that the V&A Waterfront has contributed approximately R198-billion to the national economy over the last ten years and new developments, which include the Victoria Wharf extension, could contribute a cumulative R188bn to nominal GDP by 2023.
‘’If the retail trade performance of 2013 is a yardstick, all indications are that this extensive development will bear fruit in the form of bumper festive season trade and continued growth into 2014,’’ concluded Green.