Our third day of the trade mission was billed as the Urban Safari, site visits to retail outlets in surrounding areas of Johannesburg. The group was joined by Mark Ruffley and Danisa Shetlele of the Pareto Group, which is one of South Africa’s premier shopping center investors and a leading retail property industry player. We would be visiting Southgate Mall in Soweto; Cresta Shopping Centre in Randburg and Sandton City Shopping Centre. Mark and Danisa wanted to show the diversity of the malls in the areas which serve the diverse communities in Johannesburg.
Before we arrived at the first stop in Soweto, our hosts offered a surprise stop at a truly significant landmark in South Africa.
The Mandela House, at 8115 Orlando West in Soweto, a modest four room home was Nelson Mandela’s first home which he and his first wife Evelyn moved into in 1946. After he and his first wife were divorced, he was joined in the house by his second wife Winnie. The home serves as a visitor attraction to tell the story of Former President Nelson Mandela and what he stands for: human rights, democracy, reconciliation, mutual respect and tolerance among the people of South Africa.
I was struck by one sign on the wall of the home that stated:
“In judging our progress as individuals, we tend to concentrate on external factors such as one’s social position, influence and popularity, wealth and standard of education…but internal factors may be even more crucial in assessing one’s development as a human being: humility, purity, generosity, absence of vanity, readiness to serve your fellow men – qualities within the reach of every human soul.” Nelson Mandela in a letter to Winnie Madikizela Mandela, 1977
Nelson’s home was a truly moving experience and captures the soul of a life committed to helping others and equality – a place not to miss when you are in South Africa.
We then proceeded to Southgate Mall to see the first of three malls for the day. Southgate was built in 1990 and has 170 stores and has served the Southern Johannesburg communities for more than 20 years. It represents the lower of the demographic scale for South African customers with 61 percent falling within LSM four-ten categories.
Cresta was the next property the group toured. It was built in 1976 and currently has 270 stores. They are currently developing a new food court which will greatly expand the number of food choices the centre has to offer. 75 percent of the shoppers fall within the LSM four-ten+ categories.
Finally, Sandton City was the last stop on the tour, originally opened in 1973 and includes five levels and 328 stores. This centre rivals the finest malls in the world for luxury goods and services with top fashion retailers and a full complement of food and beverage available. This center should be on the list to check out for any American franchisors wanting to build market share at the top of the market in South Africa.
The day ended with a group of the delegates heading to a local Lion Park to experience what many who come to South Africa crave-lions, giraffes, leopards and baby lion cubs that the delegates had the opportunity pet (before they get too big!).
Next Stop Nairobi, Kenya!