Boosting Business Through Consolidation
Writer: Emily Jarvis
Project Manager: Stuart Parker
As the continent’s oldest multidisciplinary property services Group, Excellerate has remained optimistic in spite of slowing headwinds in many African economies and is keen to identify and quantify new opportunities with the help of its latest consolidation and continuous improvement strategy.
“Even with the concern around China, a major African trade partner that is dominating the big global economic agenda, the sub-Saharan African region is still set for positive growth,” said Marna van der Walt, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Excellerate Property Services (EPS).
Guided by the Company vision to be “Africa’s leading trusted provider of fully integrated, self-performing property related solutions and services, driven by quality, excellence and forward-thinking”, Excellerate has diversified its offering in line with the growing impetus for infrastructure projects across the continent’s core and emerging economies.
“Sub-Saharan Africa remains rich with untapped opportunities, even in the face of slowing growth due to global economic conditions… An increasing number of sub-Saharan countries are becoming important markets for Excellerate, in addition to our core South African market,” she added.
According to the Company, Excellerate’s portfolio under management has witnessed a 12-fold surge over the past decade, reaching highs of R150 million. The Company now has a presence virtually throughout Africa with a footprint in 17 countries; and a continued aptitude for further geographic expansion into North Africa and the Middle East over the next few years.
“Growth is much higher this side of Limpopo… We’re building scale and are far from done. Once we plant a flag in a country we want to achieve a sustainable operation,” the CEO said
Representing a core division that sits alongside the globally-renowned JHI Properties Ltd, today, Excellerate manages 340 shopping centres worldwide, 435 industrial buildings, 458 office parks and 2,300 buildings; amounting to around 10 million square metres under management.
Monitoring the wider industry trends in the property market helped Excellerate make the strategic decision to consolidate its various business divisions under one roof last year; bringing together around 850 employees at its new Johannesburg headquarters, known as “Excellerate on Summit”.
“This move is exactly the kind of business-boosting strategic property decision we would advise our own clients to make,” commented van der Walt. “In a market where businesses are seeking ways to be both more efficient and more productive, the advent of a large corporate headquarters, which bring together multiple companies or divisions, is on the rise.
“Apart from the obvious rent savings achieved when moving from multiple buildings to a single base it can also be a strategic leap forward that strengthens communications and processes between companies. In our case, it positions Excellerate to work as a true-one-stop property services shop, in every sense.”
Promising benefits to bottom-line performance, the Company is more poised than ever to deliver the quality, innovative and cost-effective integrated property solutions – spanning property management, facilities management, multi-integrated services and individual services – it has built a reputation for.
The new headquarters now function as a Company hub designed to capitalise on new opportunities that can easily leverage the wider Group’s extensive knowledge and experience, technical capabilities and synergies to tap into new markets.
“Another benefit of quality corporate headquarters is that it helps to attract and retain talent at a Company, driving productivity and profitability,” stated the CEO.
The full picture
While some of Africa’s established and developed economies are beginning to take a forward-thinking approach to infrastructure development and planning, this is not the case across many of the continent’s emerging markets; which presents lucrative opportunities for Excellerate to provide value-add services to the local area.
“When embarking on new real estate developments, we cannot take for granted the existence of infrastructure needed for crucial electricity, water, roads and other services; nor can we assume that infrastructure will be provided by anyone but the private property developer,” explained van der Walt. “When investing in a new property development, it is important to understand that you cannot wait on government to put the required infrastructure in place. For developers, this means an added role – and added cost – when doing business here. It also requires a more resourceful approach.”
Although countries such as South Africa, Kenya and Ghana currently contain attractive opportunities for real estate development and investment, it is important to enter with an open mind and understanding of the local area when it comes to infrastructure; including utilities and other vital services.
The CEO highlighted in 2015: “The electricity crisis in South Africa is a clear example that is indisputably detrimental for business. For smaller retailers especially, blackouts result in spoilt stock, the inability to trade and heightened security risk. There are some great examples of innovation taking place to combat this challenge as many shopping centres are turning to alternative energy sources… These initiatives are having a big impact.”
More and more collaborations between property owners and the private sector are taking place in which businesses are tackling infrastructure challenges head-on, together. Excellerate hopes this model can be applied to other economies across the continent where more emphasis on sustainability is needed.
As a fully-integrated Company, the sustainability buzzword is well-rooted within Excellerate’s internal and external processes. Reflecting its commitment to the transformation and empowerment of South Africa, the Company proudly achieved a Level 2 B-BBEE rating in 2015, which provides a 125 percent B-BBEE procurement recognition level that contributes a healthy rating to clients’ procurement scorecards.
“Excellerate’s BEE programme is far-reaching and broad-based. It benefits many previously disadvantaged individuals. We are committed to corporate social responsibility,” the CEO confirmed.
“Thanks to our fully-integrated self-performing property solutions, Excellerate is in a unique position to create real transformation that is both broad and deep. We strive to directly assist the transformation of society, including economic and social change. This is happening at all levels of our business and across different disciplines and skills.”
With an exemplary track-record and far-reaching portfolio of successfully executed projects backed by a set of refined values and continuous improvement, Excellerate will continue to play a pivotal role in answering the property and infrastructure needs on the continent.
“Africa is growing a world-class property sector that is increasingly respected and exciting. It is an honour to be part of a sector that is driving the development of industrial, business, retail and social infrastructure across the continent,” van der Walt concluded.