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Funeral parlours, automotive industry are major players in Umbilo

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Situated close to the Durban central business district, the area is an eclectic mix of residential and commercial

Funeral parlours

The street is home to a wide range of privately owned funeral parlours and auxiliary services such as financial services companies offering funeral policies. This can be attributed to the proximity of the state-owned Gale Street mortuary, a long-standing operation now being closed with its services redirected across the city.

Motor vehicle trade and auxiliary services

The motor trade and its auxiliary services, including petrol stations, spare car parts and vehicle accessories, is another hub to have emerged along Umbilo Road, offering clients the convenience of locating goods without necessarily crossing town.

Restaurants and inexpensive eateries and cafes

The working class nature of the street has paved the way for inexpensive eateries, cafes and restaurants where workers can purchase lunch with ease. Among these is the renowned Gounden’s Restaurant and Take-Away, where company directors are as likely to be queuing for a bunny chow as their factory workers.

Printing works

Printing companies also have dominance along Umbilo Road, historically linked to the printing and publishing the corporate entities located in the nearby CBD required for their operations. A quirky reflection of changing times was the existence of a company dedicated to printing cheque books.

Social services

The Cancer Association of South Africa has offices along the street. Picture: Terry Photography Haywood

In line with the road’s mixed-use nature, there is also a wide range of social service operations in Umbilo Road. These include churches (Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church), mosques, education facilities (Durban Primary School and the University of KwaZulu-Natal Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine) and non-government organisations (KZN Society for the Blind and the Cancer Association of South Africa)

Advantages offered by the area

Mixed-use premises where small businesses operate at street level and flats are situated on the upper floors are common along Umbilo Road. Picture: Terry Photography Haywood

High visibility

Businesses in busy Umbilo Road have a high visibility and plenty opportunities for good foot traffic. Many businesses, particularly the larger operations, have off-street parking as an added advantage, given that street parking may be found at a premium.

Synergies between businesses

By emerging with various hubs, businesses can benefit from the synergies offered when complementary services operate in the same geographic space. Customers also benefit from limited travel when seeking out their required demand.


Umbilo Road is easily accessible from the northern, southern and western areas of the city. Public transport and taxis run constantly along the road to provide employees with a means to reach work, while proximity to the port of Durban affords business owners access to international markets. The harbour is situated 2km from Umbilo Road.

Opportunities for renovations and property developments

Given the age of the properties and commercial buildings along Umbilo Road, there are significant opportunities for renovations and property developments. Stand-alone former residential houses are being converted into office accommodation, while older industrial and commercial buildings are being renovated and modernised.

Mixed-use buildings

The mixed-use nature of many buildings as well as the interspersing of residential blocks of flats between commercial and industrial premises offers workers the opportunity to live, work and play within their neighbourhood.


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