‘A village with village shops’

2013-01-29 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL businessman Brett Latimer’s acquisition of the Heritage Market in Hillcrest will represent a new learning curve for the man associated with fresh food brands like Cambridge and Oxford after his success in business in the past three decades.

The develpment is likely to bring growth opportunities for the local economy, judging by the success of the first Oxford store in the Bluff in Durban, which recorded sales revenues of about R46 million in December 2012.

Latimer and Oxford freshmarket co-owner Paul Beltramo are set to launch a new 4 000 square metre store that will be the centre’s anchor tenant, employing about 450 people.

The new name of the centre will be The Oxford.

Latimer told The Witness that the multi-million rand re-development would re-ignite the centre.

“We have about 120 to 130 tenants lined up. It has the potential to be a little village with village shops like a bakery, a food shop etc. There is space for small arts and craft shops, and shops making and selling chocolate, yoghurts and biltong.

“We’re encouraging successful people to be based here. It’s definitely a boost for the local economy,” said Latimer.

The anchor store will house a grocery hall, fresh fruit and vegetable market, as well as an in-house butchery.

The centre will target the family market. Also planned is a scenic wetland area with a dam.

Latimer, who is from Hillcrest, said the plan was to procure from local farmers wherever possible and that sustaining a strong link with the local community would be vital for the centre to succeed.

“We realised that rich people like low prices. Poor people need low prices, but everyone wants great quality as well to go with this. That’s what we plan to offer. We want to buy direct from local farmers.

“Hillcrest is a great location. Hillcrest and the surrounding areas have a mixed demographic.”

The centre is on Old Main Road and is expected to have about 1 000 parking bays following the re-development.

“A successful retail venture requires three things to make it successful: it needs to be visible, which we are because we are situated on a busy main road; have good access; and have plenty of parking.

The Heritage Market has passed its prime. We are going to supply them [local community] with a shopping centre that caters to all the needs of a modern family, but also not forgetting all the retired people in the region.”

Latimer, who owned 17 butcheries in the course of his long career in retail, sold the successful Cambridge brand to giant retailer Massmart a few years ago.

The Oxford store in the Bluff in Durban, which was opened last year, has about 420 staff members.

It is understood that the company plans to open new stores in Chatsworth, Amanzimtoti and Pinetown.

There are also plans to establish a presence in Richards Bay, the Western Cape, Port Elizabeth and Gauteng.

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