Fourways Mall is in serious financial trouble. It has a large number of vacant stores and is facing serious financial problems.

It has reached such a dire situation that Accelerate Property Fund (APF), which owns 50% of Fourways Mall, is looking to raise R200 million to address the problem.

The group said it will use the money to pay off debt and reposition its finances, particularly in relation to Fourways Mall.

Fourways Mall is the largest shopping centre in South Africa, with a gross lettable area of 178,000 square meters and 350 stores.

It has an excellent location and a great track record. However, it is not producing the results expected after its big expansion and revamp, which was completed in September 2019.

Although no official figures about the cost of the expansion and revamp have been given, Fourways Mall’s fair value increase suggests it is north of a billion rand.

Accelerate Property Fund’s latest results revealed that Fourways Mall’s vacancies increased from 14,349 sqm in March 2023 to 15,109 sqm six months later.

“Management continues to focus on reducing vacancies, with the overall vacancy of 17.0%,” it said.

An analysis of Fourways Mall’s finances shows why the shopping mall is in such deep trouble and needs an intervention.

Following the expansion, Fourways Mall’s gross lettable area (GLA) increased from 61,634 square meters in 2019 to 88,785 square meters.

However, a lot of the additional gross lettable area is standing empty because of the low occupancy rate.

The net rent per square meter declined from R298 in 2020 to R262 in 2023. This decline is devastating to a property owner faced with increasing costs.

Fourways Mall’s fair value declined from R4.8 billion in 2020 to R4.02 billion three years later. This is bad news for the property owners, who are losing money.

The charts below provide an overview of Fourways Mall’s financial performance over the last four years.

Fourways Mall problems

To see first-hand why the Fourways Mall is struggling, BusinessTech visited the shopping centre on a weekday.

The first problem was traffic. The roads leading to the shopping mall were clogged because of traffic light problems.

Although there were pointsmen directing traffic, there were long queues at the main arteries feeding into the mall.

Another problem was knowing where to enter the mall and park. Although there was some signage, it could be improved.

Once we entered the mall, it was clear that there was a problem. There were nearly no people in the mall, and many restaurants were empty.

There was a large percentage of unoccupied stores. In some areas, multiple adjacent stores had no occupants.

Some empty stores had branding from the previous occupants, others had Fourways Mall paper in the windows, and others were simply empty.

The photos below show what shoppers visiting the Fourways Mall have grown accustomed to.

Fourways Mall empty stores
More empty stores at Fourways Mall

Big plans to improve Fourways Mall

In its latest attempt to improve Fourways Mall’s performance, it appointed Flanagan & Gerard as the mall’s strategic asset manager.

Flanagan & Gerard is well-known as developers and investors in dominant regional shopping centres that retain dominance within the trade area.

The company has developed many shopping centres, including Vaal Mall, Highveld Mall, Heidelberg Mall, Eyethu Orange Farm Mall, and Nicolway.

It was also behind the award-winning Morningside Shopping Centre, Middelburg Mall, and Mall of the North in Polokwane.

The Moolman Group has also been appointed to have oversight of property management at the mall.

The Fourways Mall co-owners have also revealed the targeted strategy to reestablish it as a top-tier shopping destination.

The strategy will offer a mix of retail options within a convenient, safe, and engaging environment. It includes:

  • Improved signage for easy navigation.
  • Introducing new tenants.
  • Deploying full backup power solutions and exploring energy alternatives.
  • Enhanced parking area lighting and upgraded security measures.
  • Optimise traffic flow and make parking bays bigger.
  • Revitalise the surrounding area, with attention to taxi services, hawkers, landscaping, and traffic light systems.

Paul Gerard, MD of Flanagan & Gerard, said their initial emphasis is on creating a seamless, secure, and enjoyable environment for all our visitors and tenants.

The initial six-month strategy is poised to lay the foundation for re-establishing Fourways Mall as a top-tier shopping destination.

“As the management transition progresses, tenants and visitors can anticipate first-hand exposure to these exciting developments,” the company said.

Patrick Flanagan, non-executive co-chairman and co-founder at Flanagan & Gerard, said their objective is to revitalise the Fourways Mall brand.

They want to ensure that Fourways Mall is top of mind as the best shopping destination for those who reside in our primary and secondary trade area.

He added that they want to provide a “delightful physical environment, supported by the best-of-breed tenant mix.”