Safland goes big

By Theresia Tjihenuna
May 2013
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When The Grove - Mall of Namibia officially opens its doors in September 2014 in Windhoek’s Kleine Kuppe, it will not only be Namibia’s biggest shopping mall but it will be one of Africa’s biggest shopping centres.

The property development company at the helm of this enormous retail venture is Safland Property Group, in partnership with Atterbury and Demashuwa. It has just revealed that the mall is expected to create national economic growth as well as boost the country’s employment rate.

With a massive 55 000 square meter of rental space, ‘The Grove’ [as the developers refer to it] will be home to world class retail brands offering the ultimate shopping experience for the young, the old and the young at heart alike.

The company has been in existence for twenty one years and is taking the local property development industry by storm.

Safland’s recently appointed managing director, Desmond van Jaarsveld, says the company is looking beyond Windhoek to develop shopping malls. It intends to spread its wings to towns such as Katima Mulilo where another grand shopping mall is already in the pipeline. Ondangwa is another town where the Gwashamba Mall is currently taking form, opening in May 2013. . The company has just completed a major project of the Town Square shopping mall in Otjiwarongo that opened in early December last year, with further renovations and improvements being completed in May 2013.

“We are also looking into developing opportunities in frontier towns such as Eenhana, Outapi and Opuwo and others,” he submits adding that at the moment, the Safland  team is exploring  opportunities that exist in those towns before they can fully begin implementing the developments.

According to van Jaarsveld, the company involves locals from the respective communities in the construction, development and servicing processes.

“During construction in Otjiwarongo, most of our services were procured from local resources. We do not just put up world class buildings; we also provide skills to people in the retail and construction businesses. Our passion lies in people and the prosperity of our Nation Development is about improving the lives of ordinary citizens,” he stresses.

Although the prospect of more developing projects in the country seems promising, van Jaarsveld says the country faces a shortage of skilled individuals in the industry, like project managers and retail specialists.

“We are currently in discussion with various institutions to tailor-make various courses in the retail industry to benefit local aspirants,” he says. Many Namibians, has the need for exposure to the retail and services industry and Safland will where possible, exposure them to the practical know-how of the industry.

The courses they’re currently busy with will cover every aspect of the retail industry, including ‘soft skills’. “This is where employees are given the skills how to engage with customers in a friendly, ethical and professional manner, supported by efficient product knowledge,” he highlights.

Apart from this initiative, Safland will also provide in service training to Property Management graduates from Polytechnic of Namibia and are working closely with UNIBUS from UNAM, to provide mentorship, guidance and support to students.

Questioned on what sets Safland apart from its competitors, van Jaarsveld says that the company’s main objective has always been to develop world class facilities, understanding the market and our clients supported by solid relationships.

“We have a winning recipe; our previous projects are testimonial to what we do including the quality of our work.  Let’s just say that we put our money where our mouth is,” he enthuses.

Van Jaarsveld is of the opinion that the land and housing issue the country currently faces predicts that affordability of both will remain a challenge in the years to come: “This is a national concern. Thus, the private sector, local authorities and Government should find a common ground to address it, so that every Namibian can afford to own a home for their families.”

Regardless of the land and housing affordability issue, van Jaarsveld foresees a continuous upward trends in the property development industry in the future in Namibia.

“Our strategic plans are in sync with Vision 2030, hence our high aspirations for fruitful future for all Namibians,” he concludes. PF