A NUMBER of big national retail brands, including a major bank, have signalled their confidence in the rejuvenated Nelson Mandela Bay central business district by moving into the Pier 14 shopping centre in Govan Mbeki Avenue in time for the festive season.
The North End branch of Standard Bank is relocating to the centre and will be open for business on December 1. It joins fast-food franchise outlets Debonairs Pizza and Cassie’s, which started trading last month.
Martin Wragge, chief executive of GRITprop Investments, which owns the centre, said the influx of national tenants was in part due to a five-year, R40-million expansion process.
“The upgrade has increased footfall and turnover, and we now have more than eight million feet passing through our doors annually,” he said.
Wragge said management was anticipating bumper peak season trading, with retail turnovers expected to top R270-million for the financial year.
“We are thrilled that our efforts to increase trading volumes are finally paying off,” he said.
Pier 14 features seven floors of office and retail space covering a gross lettable area of 30273m², including the revamped 25000m² retail component.
“We are in negotiations with a few more national tenants, which we obviously can’t name yet.”
Wragge said Standard Bank’s presence would strengthen the centre’s financial services offering, which included Nedbank, Old Mutual Finance, Surebank, Bayport Financial Services and Bridge Loans.
Earlier this year, Pier 14 introduced a Chingos chicken outlet, an Old Fashioned Fish and Chips as well as the Linga Longa restaurant to join existing traders Hungry Lion, Pie City and King Pie.
Wragge said this had helped to diversify the centre’s tenant mix, which comprised mainly fashion, footwear, music, furniture and appliances, as well as health and beauty stores.
“With the addition of Cassie’s and Debonairs, we now have a good mix of food retailers.”
Debonairs Pizza co-owner Taki Pitsiladi said he and his partners, brother Peter and Hugo Fourie, had always believed there were good business opportunities to be had in the centre.
“There’s lots of trade and movement on the ground floor and we’re in a good position right next to [anchor tenant] Shoprite,” Pitsiladi said.
Wragge said: “Too many of our tenants have been trading in oversized spaces due to historically cheap rentals.”
Over the past six months, Pier 14 had been engaged in a process of reducing the floor space of existing tenants by between 20% and 50%, Wragge said.
“The result is better densities, more affordable rentals and greater profitability for the tenants and centre alike.”
He said the downsizing process had also opened up new trading spaces for retailers on the ground and first floors, which had been fully occupied for some time.