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Prospecton: Anchoring all possibilities

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Close to Amanzimtoti with ocean views, Durban harbour and ­motor business, this is an excellent ­commercial and industrial zone.

The success story of Prospecton, the industrial area situated in Durban’s South Industrial Basin, is essentially one intrinsically linked to the success story of motor vehicle giant Toyota South Africa and its investment into a manufacturing facility close to the Durban Harbour.

At a glance, Prospecton plays a significant role in the eThekwini Municipality, with some commentators citing statistics that the region constitutes around 65% of Durban’s contribution of the country’s GDP (GDP).

There are a number of substantial economic players operating from the area including South African Breweries (SAB) Prospecton brewery, Edgars Consolidated Stores (Edcon), GUD Filters and SAPREF, a joint venture between Shell SA Refining and BP Southern Africa to create southern Africa’s largest crude oil refinery. That facility has 35% of South Africa’s crude oil refining capacity, meaning it plays an integral role in keeping the wheels of the country’s economy turning.

However, it was in 1972 that Toyota established its Prospecton plant ,and today the company’s various operations and production lines cover a 79ha site and employ thousands of people in the process.

There can be little doubt the initial development – and the subsequent ones the motor vehicle giant has made on its road to becoming Africa’s largest motor vehicle manufacturer currently exporting locally made cars to more than 80 countries – has been the trigger for numerous downstream and linked industries into Prospecton.

The over-riding majority of other investors are associated with the motor trade as suppliers, sub-contractors, after-sale services or straight motor dealers – Durban South Toyota, Durban South Panel & Paint, Shatterprufe Glass and Federal-Mogul Motorparts are only a handful of names on the buildings and warehouses.

Toyota SA president and chief executive CEO Andrew Kirby says the Toyota South Africa heritage spans more than 55 years, during which time the company has evolved into Africa’s largest vehicle manufacturer and set benchmarks for manufacturing technology and logistics. It also produces the country’s largest variety of models and has been the leader in domestic motor vehicles sales volumes since 1980.

Toyota SA president and chief executive Andrew Kirby stands next to stands before the iconic Toyota statue in the Prospecton manufacturing facility. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography
The Prospecton plant dominating Prospecton Road is today one of the company’s 11 manufacturing sites producing Hiluxes to Euro VI-level fuel emission compliance standards and the second largest producer of these models after Toyota Thailand.

Last year the motor vehicle giant invested R6.1 billion into the Prospecton facility as a platform for growth not only within the company, but also for sustainable development and employment in South Africa. At the time Kirby said the venture maximises the company’s future potential within Africa as growth opportunities on the continent ramp up significantly in the next five to 10 years.

The investment allowed Toyota SA to retool the factory for the new Hilux and Fortuner models; increase the local content from 1 500 parts to 2 700 parts, translating into roughly 60% of the original equipment and boost capacity by 20 000 units to 140 000 units. Every day 550 motor vehicles roll off the fully commissioned lines.

As more concrete evidence of how Toyota’s dominance has been a magnet for auxiliary and downstream industries, Kirby said the expansion attracted five new international suppliers to South Africa, effectively creating another 2 000 downstream jobs as a result.

Situated behind the old Durban International Airport runway, the SAPREF plant processes 24 000 tons of crude daily. The facility formulates 10 main products in 46 different grades, translating into 2.7 billion litres of petrol annually – or more than enough fuel to take 800 000 motor vehicles around the world.

SAB opened its doors to the Prospecton brewing facility in 1974 and now produces millions of hectolitres of its leading beer brands annually. The brewery is another significant employer for the area, but has a far broader appeal in also being a tourist destination.

Tours operate daily through the facility, offering visitors a glance into the world of brewing and packaging as well as the option for sharing an ice-cold brew in the on-site pub to quest the thirst after the long trek.

Several current rental opportunities reflect the investment and rates of return being achieved for Prospecton. Two rental opportunities that Chas Everitt recently advertised include a 7 885m² warehouse and office complex close proximity the N2 for R66/m² and a smaller office space with reception area and storeroom for R57/m².

Propco has an opportunity for investors to establish a training and educational facility in a building promising easy access to the public transport routes operating in the area. The 440m² came on to the market for R60/m² as a reflection of affordable rentals, while an industrial factory and warehouse facility on the Just Property books offers a 700m² property also for around the R57/m² mark.

Independent on Saturday Property

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