How Saflands struck it big with N$3bn worth of developments

How Saflands struck it big with N$3bn worth of developments Atterbury Property

Saflands Property Group has revolutionized Namibia’s shopping experience by developing some of the most iconic shopping malls in the country, namely the Grove Mall of Namibia, Gwashamba Mall, Otjiwarongo Town Square, Mutual Platz, Rundu Mall and the Dunes Mall in Walvis Bay among others.

The company, founded in 1992 in South Africa by Kallie van der Merwe and Mirinda van der Merwe, has completed 11 property developments with a value of approximately N$3 billion since it relocated to Namibiain 2011.

“Safland have always been commercial property developers with retail property being its field of expertise. Safland identified specific needs with regards to retail centers within Namibia and literally filled these gaps. Safland regarded Namibia as an underserviced market at the time and its aim was to develop the dominant center in every relevant town,” Saflands CEO Kallie Van der Merwe told The Brief.

The property developer, however, dispelled misconception that Safland owns all the properties that it developed.

"The properties are housed in two property funds being the Frontier Property Trust with the GIPF as the lead investor and the Nguni Property Fund.”

He added that the Namibia focused property development group was currently working on three new developments,  and was recently appointed Development Managers of a project in Botswana.

“Safland is currently working on 3 new developments, one being a distribution center and two retail malls. Safland is a Namibian company with no holdings outside the borders of the Country. Safland however are the Development Managers for the new PWC offices in Gaborone, Botswana,” Van der Merwe said.

Commenting on whether the company has any plans to shift from commercial to more residential developments going forward, Van der Merwe said, “Safland follows a solution-based approach and if we identify a need worth fixing we will do so. For the moment there is nothing in this pipeline.”

He noted that the on-going implementation of work-at-home policies by companies was minimal in Namibia, with the company having observed more workers returning to work from their offices.

“This may have an impact on office accommodation which forms a smaller part of our business. We can already see a reverse in the trend with people going back to the office. Very few companies in Namibia view working from home as a permanent solution going forward, although most considered it at some point in time. We do believe the pandemic brought a greater awareness of social distancing and creating a more conducive environment for people to work in,” the Safland CEO said.

He said the group’s property portfolio had not been negatively affected by slowdown in the domestic economy, a position worsened by the advent of COVID-19.

“All malls developed by Safland are performing exceptionally well, especially those in the rural towns. I believe we have been through the worst, Covid included and will see slow but steady growth in the economy going forward. The GRN and business in Namibia have learned a lot during the last number of years and most will avoid costly mistakes of the past,” Van der Merwe said.

“Safland did not experience a large increase in vacancies. That is mainly due to site selection, our dominant strategy, strong tenant mix and quality management.”

On whether Namibian property prices and rentals are overpriced, Van der Merwe said, “not at all. It however wasn’t the case pre 2016 when the country still lived in a property bubble that only burst later than the rest of the world. The cost of serviced land is still excessive and that makes homeownership very hard for especially first-time buyers.”

Quizzed on the possible listing of the company on the Namibian Stock Exchange, Van der Merwe said, “ Safland will not be listing in the foreseeable future but listing is always an option for one or both of the funds in order to stimulate further growth moving ahead.”

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Last modified on Friday, 06 May 2022 12:33

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