Current Issue 52
With a historically strong presence on the African continent, Collins Property Group has continued to maintain its reputation with the backing of a growing project portfolio of commercial property developments
An Opportunistic Approach to Property
Writer: Emily Jarvis
Project Manager: Stuart Parker
With a history spanning four generations over a period of more than 100 years of operation, Collins Property Group is leveraging its reputation for commercial property development to reach new strategic milestones across a wider African market. Since entering a Memorandum of Understanding with Tradehold (TDH) for the bulk of its African property interests outside South Africa last year, Collins Property has adopted an opportunistic outlook for the future growth of the business in sub-Saharan Africa.
“Although the majority of our business over the past 10 years has been in the development of distribution and retail centres throughout Southern Africa, the Group has recently moved into residential development projects, as well as increasing its activities across the continent; in a bid to make sure we can provide an end-to-end service for our clients,” says Murray Collins, Managing Director of Collins Property Group.
Led by a dynamic and hands-on approach, the Company’s total property solution approach was identified as a way to become more competitive, making decisions much faster to ultimately deliver a high quality product within an improved time frame.
“We have built up a significant project portfolio that demonstrates our core competencies and ability to handle a project from the planning phase right through to asset management. Moreover, the absence of hierarchy within our management structure means we’re able to make decisions and deliver on our promises much faster than ever before,” he adds.
As one of the first property developers to move into Africa’s retail and distribution sectors during the early 2000s, Collins Property Group has formed many longstanding relationships with the likes of successful retailers including Shoprite and Pepkor over the years, along with other national tenants across Namibia, Botswana, Seychelles, Zambia and South Africa.
Collins highlights: “A serious belief of ours when it comes to doing business, both locally and internationally, is to choose the right partners. We certainly favour local partnerships as these individuals and organisations know what’s happening on the ground and we can work together to source the best deals. We believe our partners should play an active role in our vision to be seen as a local business; it’s key that everyone in our supply chain is totally committed to this core value.”
Working with likeminded organisations such as Tradehold Africa has been a critical part of the Group’s success. This particular partnership has helped Collins Property Group to expand its Namibian portfolio, creating a “good deal flow for retail centre projects in this burgeoning sector”.
He further details: “As mentioned, our philosophy is to go into areas where there is both a buoyant market and in countries where we believe we can make a difference. Namibia is a very aspirational country and there is great opportunity to create retail environments where every desire of the shopper can be met.”
Collins Property has a significant interest in fostering healthy internal relationships with its staff, offering quality training and skills development to those who join its local team.
“As a family-owned business operating in the international property market, we hire top quality staff with the necessary skills and commitment to the Collins Property brand. This feeds into our business expansion strategy too,” says Collins.
Headed up by experienced executives, the Company’s in-house team facilitates the optimal development of large and medium-scale projects for major clients.
“As we are an opportunistic Company, we will do deals as and when they make sense in Africa. It’s no secret that doing business in Africa presents its challenges, however, with our track record and previous experience in Africa, we believe we will grow our business by 20 percent over the next three years,” he further explains.
Further bolstering its presence on the continent, Collins Property has recently entered into an agreement with Aveng to redevelop an existing portfolio from a previously successful joint venture arrangement. Signed earlier this year, Collins bought a majority stake in an Aveng portfolio, comprising 35 properties. “There are significant opportunities within this portfolio to redevelop prime industrial properties also,” says Collins.
“Beyond this project, Aveng has a good presence in Africa and, with its diverse construction, infrastructure and engineering expertise, we look forward to collaborating with them in the future.”
He adds: “In addition to these key expansions, we are also looking at various other projects including retail centres throughout the African markets in which we operate, including Mozambique and Zambia.”
The Seychelles archipelago has become a hotspot for hospitality and retail projects in recent years and is something that Collins Property has focused on over the past decade. Collins emphasises: “As part of the SADC (Southern African Development Community), we are very positive about what’s happening in the Seychelles. Therefore, we’d love to contribute more to its growing tourism scene and add more products under the Alphonse Fishing Company brand, as well as look for opportunities to develop niche tourism opportunities within the Seychelles archipelago.
“Currently though, we own and manage Alphonse Island Resort and, together with the Islands Development Company, we have plans to develop Poivre Island into a world-class Eco Resort.”
With the ability to handle all aspects of property development in-house, combined with a substantial portfolio of projects across commercial and hospitality – and more recently, the residential sector – Collins Property Group is now focused on ensuring to deliver an efficient, cost-effective solution to any property development, no matter the country.