Shoppers flock to PE’s new R2 billion Baywest Mall

More than 210 000 eager shoppers flocked to South Africa’s newest super-regional mall, the R1.7 billion Baywest Mall in Port Elizabeth, over its first four days of operation. (Picture: David Dettmann)

More than 210 000 eager shoppers flocked to South Africa’s newest super-regional mall, the R1.7 billion Baywest Mall in Port Elizabeth, over its first four days of operation, exceeding the expectations of management and national tenants.

Just 24 months after ground broke on the 90 000m² mall, Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle declared it officially open on May 21, saying it was and would be a major boost for the province’s economy.

By the end of business on Sunday, just over 210 000 shoppers had flowed through the mall’s eight entrances. Baywest marketing manager Samantha Hewitson said the turnout and trade had exceeded all expectations.

“Unaudited figures indicate that some of our national tenants have broken records for a single day of trading, provincially and, for some, even nationally,” said Hewitson.

“Reports from many of our stores indicate that the opening weekend sales have by far exceeded their expectations, especially given that it is a week before payday for many.”

Hewitson said the public had embraced the mall leading up to the grand opening.

“You could feel the anticipation in the air leading up to last week’s opening. However, these opening numbers have really bowled us over.”

Hewitson said that shoppers could look forward to even more exciting stores opening in the coming months, during the mall’s “opening season”.

“With any development this size, teething problems will arise, but we are dealing with them as soon as they crop up,” she said. “The support from the public has been amazing.”

The mall’s operation signals the start of development of the Baywest City project, and the creation of 2 500 permanent jobs at the various stores which are and will be opening their doors.

According to Nedbank Property Finance, which financed the development, Billion Group and Abacus Asset Management “saw the potential of such an establishment to inject sustainable benefits and growth into Port Elizabeth and the Eastern Cape economy as a whole”.

“Financing the development of Baywest Mall remains one of our biggest partnerships to date, and we believe it will make a significant contribution to the socio-economic enhancement of the people and communities of Port Elizabeth,” said Ken Reynolds, Gauteng regional executive at Nedbank Property Finance.

The mall represents a host of firsts for the province, from stores including Ster-Kinekor IMAX, Dion Wired, Dune and River Island.

Gavin Tagg, managing director of Retail Network Services (RNS) – the full-service retail leasing and development specialist leading the leasing at Baywest Mall – said the mall will have about 250 stores, restaurants and entertainment attractions such as an ice rink, an eight-screen Ster-Kinekor Cinema complex with an IMAX screen, a tenpin bowling alley, a hi-tech games arcade and indoor dodgem cars.

“Bay West is arguably the most innovatively designed mall and differentiates itself by being one of the most compact super-regional shopping centres,” said Tagg.

“It is designed in the shape of a square, unlike any other super regional mall in SA. Most mega malls are expansive and shoppers have to walk a long way from one end to the other. But, Baywest Mall has a compact layout with prime parking at each corner and ultimately the shopper in mind,” he said.

Tagg believes the convenience of this layout sets it apart from other super regional malls in South Africa. However, the comprehensive mix of 250 tenants, in addition to attractions such as the mall being home to the only ice rink in the Eastern Cape, are integral aspects of the overall offering at Baywest Mall.

“The mall has four quads inside its square-shaped design, and these will serve as pause areas for shoppers and be functional spaces with coffee shops and other eateries. There will also be a landscaped European-style boulevard, where visitors can take in the fresh air in a secure environment before heading back indoors for a bite to eat or more shopping.

“We have secured most of the major SA retail brands, as well as several new and international brands into the Eastern Cape market,” he says.

“Baywest Mall is more than 92 percent let. International brands such as Swarovski, Lacoste, River Island, Express, Dune, Mamas and Papas, Superga, Timberland, Toss, Karaca, TM Lewin and Tom Tailor will make an entry into the province for the first time at Baywest Mall.

“Major retailers such as Edgars and Cotton On will have their flagship Eastern Cape stores at Baywest Mall. In addition to Edgars, the other anchor tenants include Checkers Hyper, Pick n Pay, Game and Woolworths.”

Baywest Mall is on the western side of PE along the N2. It is the catalyst and first phase in the development of the multi-billion rand greater Baywest City Precinct, which is being undertaken by the Billion Group and Abacus Asset Management.

The mixed-use 320 ha Baywest City Precinct will consist of retail, office parks, residential nodes, private schools with associated sporting facilities, hotels, a hospital complex, a motor city, a light industrial node and a lifestyle centre. It is a greenfields project and the developers estimate it will be fully development over the next 15 to 20 years.

To coincide with the opening of Baywest Mall, the new interchange over the N2 and other road infrastructure worth about R250 million were ready, which will allow for direct access to the mall and future Baywest City Precinct. The road infrastructure, which will also alleviate traffic congestion experienced in the area, is jointly financed by the developers and national roads agency, SANRAL.

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