New investments at Gqeberha's Boardwalk boost growth

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The co-owners of the Boardwalk Mall in Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape — Emfuleni Resorts and Flanagan & Gerard Group — has welcomed the Dondolo Property Trust as partners in Boardwalk Mall and The Capital Hotels, Apartments & Resorts as partner in the Boardwalk Precinct.

Source: Supplied. Boardwalk Mall, Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape.

The investment by The Capital forms part of a deal to develop a new hotel in the Boardwalk Precinct, which includes the Boardwalk Mall, Sun International Hotel and Casino. The addition of The Capital’s Boardwalk hotel is the next step in concluding the vision for the Boardwalk Precinct.

Opened in 2022, the R500m Boardwalk Mall has an average monthly footfall of 750,000, with 1.2 million shoppers visiting the mall in December 2023. Despite a challenging economic and retail-sector environment, Boardwalk Mall has recorded double-digit growth in turnover over the past 12 months, with a strong performance from various retail categories, including supermarkets and pharmacies.

Paul Gerard, managing director of Flanagan & Gerard, comments: “On behalf of Boardwalk Mall, we extend a warm welcome to Dondolo Property Trust and The Capital Hotels, Apartments & Resorts. It is an exciting time for Boardwalk Mall and this significant investment will help it respond to market demand to further grow this destination, which offers the ultimate convenience retail and family entertainment in the Eastern Cape.”

Dondolo joins Boardwalk

Seasoned executive, renowned Eastern Cape businessman and group chief executive officer of African Pioneer group, Stephen Dondolo joins Boardwalk Mall as a partner with the shares acquired by Dondolo Property Trust, a subsidiary of Dondolo Family Enterprise, which is a major shareholder in African Pioneer group.

Established in 1990, the group is the leading empowerment company in the Eastern Cape. In December 2022, Dondolo was appointed as chairman of the Emfuleni Resorts, a subsidiary of JSE-listed gaming, casino and hotel group, Sun International, which is a cornerstone investor in the mall.

“This transaction marks a significant milestone for our group. Coupled with the growth of Boardwalk Mall as a shopping destination of choice in Gqeberha – I am confident this new venture will continue to open new opportunities for entrepreneurs and SMMEs while creating much-needed jobs in the local Eastern Cape economy,” said Dondolo.

Dondolo will be joined by his daughter Nomkhitha Mfono, executive director at Dondolo Property Trust, who says, “We are excited by the new acquisition as it aligns well with our growth strategy and builds on the success of an already established asset with attractive growth potential.”

Capital’s Eastern Cape venture

Founded in 2008 by chief executive officer Marc Wachsberger, The Capital Hotels, Apartments & Resorts is the fastest growing independent hotel group in South Africa. It has a portfolio of 12 hotels which offer standard hotel rooms, serviced apartments and modern conference facilities across 4- and 5-star segments. Its future hotel at Boardwalk Mall will be the group’s first venture in the Eastern Cape, and responds to the unique location and its exciting potential for local, regional and international tourism poised to benefit the local economy.

Boardwalk Mall is well-located on a Blue Flag beach in Summerstrand and caters for the daily needs of the local community and attracts regional shoppers over the weekend including tourists staying at the 5-Star Boardwalk Hotel and nearby hotels.

The mall also caters to local and international cruise-liner visitors from the nearby local harbour. Since November 2023, Gqeberha has welcomed over 41,000 cruise-liner guests, with a large percentage using Boardwalk Mall as a shopping destination on their stopover travels. Recent research also shows a meaningful cross-patronage between Boardwalk Casino customers and the mall.

Boardwalk mall retailers continue to report pleasing trading results, with brands such as Bogart Man, Studio 88, Old Khaki, and John Craig recently opening new stores.

“Demand for space from national retail and independent brands exceeds limited supply. We already have a long list of big-name retailers waiting patiently to lease space once we have additional space – the investment by Dondolo Property Trust and The Capital Hotels, Apartments & Resorts is the boost we need to accelerate our expansion plans,” adds Gerard.