Cresta Shopping Centre’s expansion and renovation plans remain in-keeping with an overriding mission to enrich the Johannesburg community and to create an unrivalled shopping experience
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Lewis Bush
As one of the largest shopping centres in South Africa, Cresta has evolved to become an icon of Johannesburg’s retail scene, growing since its inception in 1976 to now boast more than 260 stores and a host of value-added services across its vast facility.
Balancing the best of traditional, nostalgic South African values with a willingness to adopt the very latest technologies and innovations, Cresta has consequently formed an emotional connection with people who frequent the Centre; attracting adults and children alike and facilitating their own progressions through life.
General Manager, Virginia Bester introduces: “Cresta connects to the hearts of our shoppers, being the place they would go as little kids for an outing or to purchase their back-to-school gear; and now, having the opportunity to share the experience with kids and grandkids of their own.
“Our aspirational retail offering features a hub for fashion, food, décor, tech and services, contributing to Cresta’s classification as a super-regional shopping centre that features a diverse mix of stores.”
These include anchor stores such as Woolworths, Pick n Pay, Checkers, Game, Edgars, Ster-Kinekor, Mr Price Emporium; in addition to noteworthy brands such as Zara, iStore, Barnyard Theatre, Lindt, Lush Cosmetics, Palladium Boots, Carrol Boyes, Le Creuset, Paul’s Homemade Ice Cream, Art Jamming, Nespresso, Lindt and South Africa’s largest Dis-chem.
Wholly-owned by Pareto Pty Ltd and managed by Mowana Properties, the Centre’s operations, finance, leasing and marketing departments combine with ‘Cresta’s face’, the frontline team, to keep the shopping centre “on course” and true to the founding mission that helped to attract such high-profile brands in the first place.
Bester affirms: “Our mission statement is to create a superior customer experience through our world-class properties. Through this, we generate sustainable and diversified total returns for our shareholders. Therefore, in line with this, we believe in focusing on the shopper experience.”
Investing in a good experience
This shopper experience addresses more than 16.5 million people every year; each greeted by more than 260 tenants across 114,545 square metres of floor space.
“The customer is the reason for our existence. Hence, to ensure that our shoppers return to Cresta, their journey from the moment they enter our booms until they leave our parking lot must be a pleasant one. In the uncertain economic times that we are in, have been in, and possibly will continue to be in, our shoppers make a conscious decision to spend their hard-earned resources (be it money or time) at Cresta.
“It is thus our responsibility to do everything within our power to prove to our shoppers that their time and money is well spent at Cresta, to even go so far as to say that it was an investment in a good experience.”
As part of an ongoing continuous improvement strategy to this end, Cresta aligns the notion of the customer journey to its research activities; which in turn have led to numerous internal enhancements.
A revamp of the look and feel of Cresta’s interiors and exteriors has recently epitomised this approach, realising that the aesthetics of the Centre were every bit as important as the stores within it.
“We found that the look and feel of Cresta did not resonate with the modern times in which it operates and felt like it was stuck in a bygone era. As such, the upgrade presented a fresh, cleaner space that introduced more natural light into the Centre, bringing it into the new millennium. The exterior matched this with a modern façade on all entrances,” Bester describes.
“During the revamp project, we also expanded Cresta to incorporate a multi-level Food and Entertainment Court while, on a functional level, we have recently implemented a free Wi-Fi service in all common areas, and have introduce three-hour free parking in all open parking areas as a thank you to shoppers.
Further ‘thank-yous’ appear in the form of a free parking initiative for senior shoppers, the unveiling of special parking bays to address the diversity of ages and physical capabilities of its visitors, and improved access and mobility within the main Centre as well.
Finally, “dubbed as an oasis for parents, we created a Family Room which is one of its kind in the Food and Entertainment Court. Equipped with a kitchenette, trolley parking, play area, nursing room with a rocking chair, and family bathrooms, this facility was introduced as a haven for parents with young children, from new-borns to toddlers”.
Proudly South African
Cresta’s focus on individual satisfaction doesn’t simply revolve around the direct shopping experience. Under a motto of ‘growing people, growing places” the managing Company understands that enrichment must be a constant theme throughout the Centre’s structure; from the employment process, throughout all required business partnerships, and into areas of social upliftment as well.
Regarding the former, employee retention is of paramount importance, and is achieved through the same aforementioned environment that is fostered for the sake of its customers.
“We look for people that are not only capable but buy into our vision of growing together, value teamwork and are motivated to take Cresta to the next level,” Bester elaborates. “As a proudly South African company we align our policies and processes with a greater picture in mind. We believe in transformation and want to do our part to help and support our country in achieving its goals. We believe in building and investing in the entrepreneurial spirit and supporting SMMEs where we can.
“We believe in positively impacting the environment in which we operate and focus as much as we can on benefiting the immediate catchment area. As part of our Annual Festive Campaign (the most important time in the retail calendar) we incorporate a CSI element. This strategy enables Cresta Shopping Centre to not only support and uplift the community that serves us, but to also facilitate our shoppers in paying it forward.”
A host of corporate social responsibility-driven initiatives have been entered into as a consequence of this ethos, chief among them being the 2016 Magical Disney Toy Tree campaign in collaboration with Disney Africa; the 2017 Festive Charity Tree investment drive; the Centre management team’s participation in Mandela Day activities; and a recent customer-driven participation in a Charity Mall Walk to raise donations for charity.
The iconic destination
Back inside the building itself, there is an equally concerted focus on staying ahead of the industry curve, not just in terms of the tenants operating under Cresta’s roof, but on a more intricate level across the usage of advanced technologies.
The Centre’s Building Management System and generator services ensure this ongoing monitoring and tweaking of mechanical equipment and software; once again contributing to the overall goal of providing an optimum shopper experience.
“We have structured our services and amenities to cater to our shoppers’ needs as much as possible and we concentrate on bringing one-of-a-kind experiences to people when possible. Examples of this include a free Masterchef Australia Judges Meet & Greet and, as part of our Festive Campaign, we were privileged to receive approval to host the premiere of Disney’s new movie, Moana. This was a special treat for us as we invited the children from the SOS Children’s Village to attend the screening. SAMA award winning singer, Lira – whose song featured in the movie – also attended the launch.”
Bester concludes: “These are just a couple of examples of how we resonate with the minds of our shoppers, and indeed the greater market at large, as the iconic destination of choice for unique experiences and retail offering.”