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Knowing when to refurbish

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There is a science to establishing when and how to do up a shopping centre for the best results

Keeping up with current shopping centre trends, retail formats that erode traffic or simply a strategic need to expand or improve certain aspects of a shopping centre are some of the reasons why refurbishments are carried out.

Another reason to consider a refurbishment is Reilly’s Law of Commercial Gravity, as it is known. According to this “law”, customers are willing to travel longer distances to larger retail centres given the higher attraction they present.

However, the timing of a revamp or refurbishment is dependent on the performance of the shopping centre, and Moses Mushirivindi, an authority on mall refurbishments, says this is dependent on property net income trends, tenant turnover trends, foot traffic trends, vacancies, and the time it takes to fill vacancies.

“This will lead to a determination of the life cycle stage of the centre. Research has established that management must plan a refurbishment at the maturity stage of the centre’s life cycle. This is when there is a large number of shopping centres of the same type, coupled with sharp competition and declining sales growth. It is important to therefore understand the life cycle stage in order to plan refurbishment.”

Mushirivindi, who will speak at the eighth annual South African Council of Shopping Centres (SACSC) Research Conference on May 9 at the Maslow Hotel in Sandton, says the motive for refurbishment must be established as well, which then indicates which aspect of the centre should be refurbished first.

“Refurbishment can be undertaken to cure physical obsolescence or functional obsolescence, and the order of works is dependent on the aspects requiring refurbishment.”

Commenting on Mushirivindi’s research, the University of Pretoria’s Professor Chris Cloete, who is also the SACSC’s chairman of shopping centre studies, says a number of MSc mini-dissertations on shopping centre topics have been completed over the past two years, and that the founding of the department of Shopping Centre Studies at the university in 2017 was a milestone in university education and research in South Africa.

“It served as a stimulus for a number of research projects by postgraduate students.

The characteristics of shopping centres as complex systems, and the divergent and important role they fulfil in modern society, are being investigated in a wide range of research topics in the department of Construction Economics.

A number of research papers has also emanated from postgraduate research on shopping centres.

These outputs contribute to the increasing recognition of the SACSC/University of Pretoria initiative as the major focus of shopping centre research in South Africa, and indeed in Africa,” he says.

Amanda Stops, chief executive officer for the SACSC, says Mushirivindi is just one of the many speakers at the 2018 SACSC Research Conference who will bring many important retail and shopping centre insights to light.

“We look forward to showcasing Moses, along with our other speakers, to delegates next month. It is going to be an enlightening session for all.” Established in 2011, the main objective of the SACSC Research Conference was to enhance and satisfy the need for more information on trends, technology and customer information with regards to retail and shopping centres. Now, eight years on, the conference has grown in leaps and bounds.

Moses Mushirivindi was born in Zimbabwe where he obtained his BCom honours in management and a postgraduate diploma in marketing.

In 2015 he was awarded the MidCity Properties award as best student in property management. Arriving in South Africa, he enrolled for an MSc in real estate degree with the University of Pretoria, which he completed in 2016, graduating in 2017.

His research, which was entitled “Optimum Refurbishment Time for Shopping Centres”, under the tutelage of Dr Dirk Prinsloo and Professor Chris Cloete, was awarded a distinction.

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