To refurb or not to refurb, that is the question

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 reasons why refurbishments are done.

Another reason to consider a refurbishment is Reilly’s ‘Law’ or 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 to customers. Developed by William J Reilly in 1931, it states that the attractiveness of the retail centre becomes the analogy for size (mass) in the physical law of gravity. The law presumes the geography of the area is flat without any rivers, roads or mountains to alter a consumer’s decision of where to travel to buy goods. In analogy with Newton’s Law of Gravitation, the point of indifference is the point at which the ‘attractiveness’ of the two retail centres.

Moses Mushirivindi, an authority on mall refurbishments agrees with all the above-mentioned reasons. Speaking at the eighth Annual South African Council of Shopping Centres (SACSC) Research Conference, on 9 May 2018, at the Maslow Hotel in Sandton, Mushirivindi will be sharing his invaluable case study regarding the optimal time and stage in a mall’s life cycle when refurbishments must be done. “It was established that the timing of a revamp or refurbishment is dependent on the performance of the shopping centre which is mainly deduced from; property net income trends, tenant turnover trends, foot traffic trends, vacancies and time it takes to fill up vacancies. This will lead to a determination of the life cycle stage of the centre. The research 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 stage of the life cycle stage in order to plan refurbishment,” he said

Mushirivindi added that 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, functional obsolescence and the order of works is dependent on the aspects requiring refurbishment,” he said. Mushirivindi was born in Zimbabwe where he obtained his B.Com Honours Degree in Management and a Graduate Diploma in Marketing. In 2015 he was awarded the MidCity Properties award for best student in Property Management. Upon arriving in South Africa, he enrolled for an MSc in Real Estate degree with University of Pretoria which he completed in 2016 and Graduated in 2017. He got a distinction in his research which was entitled “Optimum Refurbishment Time for Shopping Centres”, under the tutelage of Dr Dirk Prinsloo and Professor Chris Cloete.

Commenting on Mushirivindi’s research, University of Pretoria’s Professor Chris Cloete who is also the SACSC Chairman of Shopping Centre Studies, said that there has been a number of MSc mini-dissertations on shopping centre topics that had been completed over the past two years. “The founding of the Shopping Centre Studies at the University of Pretoria 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 post-graduate students. The characteristics of shopping centres as complex systems, and the divergent and important role it fulfils in modern society, are being investigated in a wide range of research topics in the Department of Construction Economics. A number of research papers have also emanated from post-graduate 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 said.

Chief Executive Officer for the SACSC, Amanda Stops, said that Moses 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,” she said.

Established in 2011, the with 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.

This year, attendees can look forward to presentations by: • Kundayi Manzara, Director of Sesfikile Capital • Justice Malala, Political Commentator • Lebo Motshegoa, Managing Director of Foshizi • Dr. Martyn Davies, Managing Director, Emerging Markets and Africa for Deloitte • Moses Mushirivindi • John Ryan, Retail Analyst and Journalist for Retail Week • Margaret Constantaras, Independent Consultant for Research IQ • Nikolay Dolgov, General Mananger, Point of Sales tracking for GFK SA • Nicolet Pienaar, Business Group Manager for GFK SA • Steven Burnstone, CEO Eighty20 Consulting • Ray de Villiers, Futurist for TodayTomorrow Global • Lebogang Mokubela, CEO of the Lemok Group

Those interested in the 2018 SACSC Research Conference can register here or call +27 (0) 10 003 0228 for more information.

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