Why Pretoria has become home to Africa’s biggest mall

Johannesburg – Developers of Tshwane's Menlyn Park Shopping Centre, the largest mall in Africa, say that there was “definitely” a need to make the mall bigger. This is despite the growing number of malls in Gauteng.

Pretoria's Menlyn Park Shopping Centre, which has a floor space of 177 000m2, will open on Thursday.

Charl Marais, the development manager at Pareto Limited which owns Menlyn Park Shopping Centre, told Fin24 in an interview that there was a combination of reasons for the mall’s redevelopment. The main drivers being demand by retailers and consumers. 

The first was a refurbishment requirement. “The last refurbishment of Menlyn Park Shopping Centre was done in 1999,” said Marais.

Will you visit the Menlyn Park Shopping Centre on opening day? Do you think Gauteng needs another mega mall? Tell us your thoughts by clicking here.

According to market studies undertaken, there was also an increased market demand from the consumer base. “In 15 years time the face of Pretoria has changed substantially and the number of people living in the region has increased.”

There was also a demand from retailers to expand their stores, he said.

The project was undertaken in two phases. The first phase was implemented in April 2014 and both phase one and two will be completed on the 24 November 2016.

“Planning to extend the centre commenced around 1997, and in earnest from 2012 with construction commencing April 2014.”

READ: Giant mall helps make Menlyn one of Gauteng's fastest growing regions

The mall is home to over 500 stores and includes international brands such as H&M and Zara. It also has a central park the size of a rugby field.

It is surrounded by restaurants and interactive water features. Other features include five-a-side soccer on the rooftop.

Given the slowing economy and increasing pressures on consumers, Marais said the effects do filter through. However, this was considered and built into our feasibility studies that were conducted ahead of the redevelopment, and has not prejudiced our initial plans

“It is difficult to determine what the economy is going to do in future. But when we ran our feasibility study, we tried to understand what the economy would do, the risks associated and how to deal with it,” he said.

The mall will open a day before Black Friday. Marais said that this was coincidental. “It was not specifically planned but we do believe we are leveraging on it. I think it has worked out well for us,” he said.

View of the food court at night.

The mall’s main trading base is Tshwane and surrounding areas. Marais said that the Mall of Africa, which launched a few months ago, was not a direct threat.

"We do not particularly see ourselves as a direct competitor to Mall of Africa. They are in a different region. I think Mall of Africa competes with other centres closer to it,” he said.

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