Tale of two shopping malls

Published Mar 25, 2017


Durban - Whether Ballito has the market to sustain two major shopping centres in the region will be the test over the next few months.

Ballito’s new shopping hub, Ballito Junction, opened on Thursday, carving its name as the largest mall in the northern region. The opening this week, however, was marred by violent protests led by the ANC Youth League, who demanded that young people from the area be given jobs at the centre.

However, across the road, management at the long standing Ballito Lifestyle Centre are rolling up their sleeves for a revamp of the centre in the battle for customers.

Lifestyle Centre co-owner Bruce Rencken, who initially took Ballito Junction to court to stop the rival development, said they were not “competing” with the new mall, but rather were “differentiating” themselves.

“There’s no way that we will be able to compete with a regional mall of that size. So we are not going to compete; rather we are repositioning ourselves and differentiating what we offer to make ourselves attractive to the Ballito community,” said Rencken.

Twenty-four shops have left the Lifestyle Centre to set up shop across the road, but Rencken said this has created an opportunity for the Lifestyle Centre to improve on its offering. “We have researched what our customers want and analysed what our strong points are. We offer easy access, convenience, a local vibe and great food,” he said.

In the coming months, a revamp of the centre will begin, with the opening of several new shops and restaurants as well as a permanent artisanal food market. The renovations will finish before the end of the year.

“We are positioning ourselves as the family fine dining venue of choice on the north coast, and lifestyle centre with lots to offer,” he said. The centre will be adding a Mexican restaurant called Salsa, Greek restaurant Mythos and Italian restaurant Lupa to the mix, as well as Melissa’s Coffee Shop.

“We are creating a street scene vibe, where restaurants will flow into the open areas, something like what you’d find in Umhlanga’s restaurant scene. Our market set-up will have artisanal breads, and organic and local fare and the vibe has been drawn from international venues,” he said.

However, the question, he said, was whether Ballito could sustain two shopping centres.

“We have to see whether the size of the Ballito market, which also has a high spend and the people fall into the higher Living Standards Measure market, can sustain both places. Our research shows that Ballito residents want what we offer, and plan to offer as well. We also have to question whether Ballito’s road infrastructure can cope with the traffic,” he said.

Tenants at the Lifestyle Centre said they were happy to stay and the revamp would add to their attractiveness as a shopping destination.

Meanwhile, Ballito Junction chief executive Geraldine Jorgenson said they had about 60000 people visit the mall on its opening day.

“We were very pleased with the number of shoppers who visited the new mall. We estimate 75000 to 85000 visitors will arrive over the weekend,” she said.

During the protest, Jorgenson said landscaping, fencing and the parking boom infrastructure had been destroyed. The cost of repairs had yet to be ascertained.

Regarding security measures and the memorandum from the ANCYL, Jorgenson said: “The centre has its permanent security detail and any requirements for extra security are considered on an ongoing basis, depending on prevailing circumstances. The owners and management are working through the content of the memorandum at this stage.”

Independent on Saturday

Related Topics: