IT'S SHOPPING TIME

Zambia 2014 | CONSTRUCTION & REAL ESTATE | FOCUS: MALL DEVELOPMENT

A growing middle class and expatriate community are encouraging retail developers to expand further into the Zambian market.

With over 3 million people and a growing middle class, Lusaka is home to one of the biggest mall booms in Africa, reflecting a growing consumer market in Zambia that is highly diverse. Despite a low income for the general population, expatriates and Zambia's elite have significant savings and consumptive capacity as the economy has experienced strong growth in recent years, with GDP growth between 2005 and 2012 of more than 6% per year. These expatriates, government elites, and middle class professionals are significant customers for the new booming retail sector. Also, the expanding tourist sectors have also boosted consumption capacity in the region.

Since 2000, retail opportunities have been radically transformed for Lusaka's upper income residents with the building of three large retail centers. The three malls are Manda Hill, opened in 1999, Arcades, opened in 2003, and Crossroad, opened in 2006, being home to international stores such as Shoprite, Game, Woolworths, and the first KFC in the country. However, retail development in the city is not static, as expansion continues at the malls. In April 2007, Manda Hill announced a multi-million dollar expansion plan to upgrade existing shops, provide a covered central retail area, a cinema complex and new parking facilities valued at $30 million, increasing its size by at least 50%, and doubling the size of Arcades, its direct competitor. The owners, HBW of South Africa, are investing in strategic property and developing large retail centers with national and international partners. Some $100 million was spent on the expansion and redesign of the shopping complex.

The second largest shopping mall, Arcades, was established by Arcades PLC, a group of local Zambian businessman, while Crossroads is owned by Ganesh Properties, which is under the sole ownership of a single Zambian businessman. Although retail growth in recent years has been traditionally led by South African multinationals, local capital interests are taking an active part in recent years. This Zambian-led mall expansion is also taking place outside the capital of Lusaka. Arcades PLC (Platinum Gold Group) has just opened a shopping center in Livingstone, and is planning a major development in Kitwe on the Copperbelt, which will become the largest shopping center in the country with an investment of $200 million. The new facility is being developed between the Zambian firm, Phoenix Materials, and the HBW group, which have created a joint venture to develop the project, which will have a shopping mall and a hotel.

The last shopping mall to be inaugurated in Lusaka was the Twin Palms Shopping Mall, with an investment value of over $10 million and financed by First National Bank of Zambia. With 26 stores, it has been developed over a period of two years, with Phase I of the mall spread over 7,500 sqm. Plans are underway to develop Phase II of the mall, which will add another 4,000 sqm when complete.

Zambia has experienced the expansion of South African retailers, however, some of them are waiting for their current operations to achieve their financial expectations before expanding their facilities. Owing to that, a scarcity of commercial space is expected in the near future, although after the inauguration in August 2014 of the Twin Palms Shopping Center, no other shopping mall is presently under construction in the Zambian capital city. However, according to Knight Frank Real Estate Consultancy, there are still available opportunities for the development of new shopping malls in the suburban areas outside the Lusaka CBD and in other Zambian cities, especially in the Copperbelt, where the Kitwe Copperhill Centre was opened in 2012.