The Pavilion has leveraged its owner, Pareto’s reputation for ethical, strategic growth to become the region’s foremost shopping mall
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Joshua Mann
As the oldest, first-generation shopping centre in KwaZulu-Natal, The Pareto-owned Pavilion shopping centre has become renowned in the industry and the region for being first to the punch; an attribute that holds all the more prevalence in a sector moving as fast as retail is at present.
Boasting a great lineage of world-class outlets that have evolved in alignment with The Pavilion over the past 25 years, the centre has managed to defy competition and fluctuating trends to maintain pole position from a performance, expansion, strategy and aesthetic perspective in order to maximise shareholder returns.
General Manager, Nisha Kemraj introduces: “Pavilion was modelled on European architecture and these structural feats have been superbly maintained in their original design for the past 25 years. Within these confines, one of the fundamental principles adopted in all disciplines, has been being the first to market.
“This is the golden thread that allows all activities to be staged and created within the different facets under management.”
Serving not just as a retail facilitator but a social enabler, The Pavilion’s ability to ingratiate itself into the fabric of the local community has been vital to its success; an unwavering commitment to corporate social responsibility epitomised by it being the first super-regional to create new school blocks and to develop new buildings for NGOs. Numerous investments and contributions to charities maintains the centre’s positive reputation in KwaZulu-Natal, subsequently making it the go-to provider for customers in search of all strands of retail offering.
“Of extreme significance is the fact that fashion houses have launched their first stores at Pavilion,” Kemraj cites to this end. “Cotton On, Shimansky and Clarks to name a few have been introduced to the SA consumer at The Pavilion.
“The team is also very passionate about driving and executing new marketing campaigns. International soapie stars from series’ like Bold and Beautiful have made appearances in the Fountain Court arena. Allowing activation of various insta-meets, insta-tours and the like solidifies our position as the first to react to market trends and adopt new methods of marketing to our consumers.”
From this strong platform, a host of yearly-additions, expansions and diversifications can be made, and 2018 will be no different as the centre welcomes upgrades to restroom facilities, two training nodes for the addition of H&M to the site, and the creation of an additional retail link amounting to 3,500 square metres of shopping space.
Sustainability is key
Inevitably, a plethora of new, exciting brands are lined up for this new section within The Pavilion, making it an apt time to reflect on how far the facility has come over the past 25 years to reach the socially significant status it enjoys today.
“The centre opened in October, 1992 with a footprint of 75,000 square metres of space, before subsequent expansions of 25,000 square metres were actioned in 2002,” Kemraj recalls. “An additional 8,000m2 was added to the footprint in 2005 and the final space that The Pavilion currently offers consumers now sits at an impressive 122, 768 square metres.
“The design has continually changed over the years resulting in the creation of a first-generation super-regional. Of great significance is the design and creation of the 11 domes that sit majestically in the African sky.”
Being an industry leader of course comes with its responsibilities, but such expectations have always been met head-on. In the present day, considerations have largely revolved around two core, poignant hot-topics: sustainability and technology.
Regarding the former, Kemraj details: “Corporate governance and transformation are high on the agenda for Pavilion management. We adopt and subscribe fully to our corporate charter and value system. Our approach to business is based on a simple premise of providing superior customer service while delivering stellar results to all shareholders.
“And therefore sustainability is key to all engagements, whether tenant, consumer, customer, retail or investment-based.”
Resultantly, all fundamentals are in place to treat challenges as opportunities, and to then approach said opportunities with an open mind, and often with technology as the prime indicator of how best to move forward and maximise growth.
“Being industry leaders, we have often gone to market first with new technology,” Kemraj continues. “Recent introductions include parking guidance systems, measuring carbon emissions with vehicle recognition in place; electric charging pods; vacuum system-automated spike barrier entry and exit; tri-gen multi-fuel generators to cover the entire mall’s trading floor plates; e-waste management zones; and the conversion of old lighting technology to new, white LED units.
“However, the most significant single component capital investment was the introduction of the chilled water air-conditioning system. The introduction of individually-controlled access panels allows tenants to log onto the building management system and manage, control, read usage data, print data, view temperature points, set timers, improve efficiencies and reduce costs.”
Protecting stakeholder investments
From an expansion point of view, The Pavilion has recently unveiled a new state-of-the-art Virgin Active health facility with an additional parking capacity of 220 bays to supplement the current ratio.
Glancing forward, the centre will also, “undoubtedly” usher in the creation of two additional training nodes allowing for the introduction of 18 new retailers; representing a third-phased scheme that will be executed as part of the mid-term design strategy.
“This will boast new entrance features and enhanced visual and visible shopping experiences, and showcases our ability to react to market changes and preferences; the ever-changing retail dynamic allowing for multiple points of flexibility,” Kemraj explains. “Simultaneously, operational efficiencies are constantly improved upon with the bar being raised across every delivery point.
“Cost management, sustainability and improved efficiencies are always the focal strategic points, noting however that joint ventures and skills development are equally high on the agenda.”
Encapsulating the latter point is The Pavilion’s motto of growing places and growing people through its internal placement and employment strategy. With defined staff retention and enhancement programmes in place, turnover of individuals has always been extremely low, compounded by the Pareto effect which makes the centre a trusted, BEE-aligned, employer and partner of choice.
Kemraj concludes: “Our primary differentiator is that we believe in actively managing and living the ethos of sustainable relationships. All facets of our business model encourage sustainable transactions. We believe firmly in executing our partnership strategy to enable the delivery of stellar results and superior customer service to all stakeholders.
“Additionally, our focus on refurbishment and developments are strategically phased to limit the impact on tenants’ tradability and the consumer experience. It is common knowledge that development is invasive and results in lost market share over the construction period. Therefore, to avoid development fatigue we localise construction nodes to ensure continuous unhindered retailing; protecting stakeholder investments and limiting trading impairment to the best of our ability.”