Atterbury is fast becoming a Ghanaian mall expert, with two months to go until the opening of the brand-new Kumasi City Mall. It’s the fourth mall to be developed or upgraded by Atterbury in Ghana, and the first one outside of the capital, Accra. We spoke to local man on the ground, Roux Gerber, Cobus van Heerden, Atterbury Retail Director and Hannatjie Ludick from AttAfrica about the project.

Almost finished… when exactly does the mall open?
We are almost there! The Kumasi City Mall opens its doors to the public on 20 April 2017 and the countdown has started. The opening date coincides with the celebration of the Ashanti Kingdom’s 18-year rule which makes this date even more exciting for the Kumasi community.

Why Kumasi?
Why not Kumasi? Once the capital of the rich and powerful Ashaniti Kingdom, Ghana’s second city is still dripping with Ashanti traditions. Its heart, the huge Kejetia market, throbs like a traditional talking drum and its wares spill into the city so that no matter where you are in Kumasi, it sometimes feels like one enormous marketplace. With a population of more than 1.5 million people, Kumasi is a very important trading hub for the northern parts of Ghana and numerous mining activities happen in and around the greater Kumasi district. Kumasi City Mall is destined for success as no other formal retail experience exists in the city, something that is lacking when you talk to the people of the city. Kumasi City Mall will become a destination in itself – the place to go for retail and entertainment experience, the likes of which Kumasi has never had. Atterbury and partners are very privileged and proud to be associated with this project.

What is currently happening on the site, two months to go?
Well, when you walk on site there is hustle and bustle around every corner. Construction noises are everywhere to be found. The Kumasi City Mall consists of 18 500sqm of retail space that includes two anchor tenants, Shoprite and Game. Both have already taken beneficial occupation and are busy with their own internal shop-fitting processes, which are looking very promising. WBHO, the main contractor, is on schedule and completing final finishing of shops before handing over to tenants eagerly waiting to start with their shop-fitting. External works, roads and landscaping are taking shape and you get a sense of what the completed project will look like, which is very rewarding. The line shop tenants are in the process of finalising shop-fitting plans and will commence with their internal fit-out in the next two to four weeks.

Aside from those two anchors, what sort of shops will there be in the mall? Is the mix similar or different to those in Accra?
Kumasi City Mall will definitely be home to the tenants the Accra community have come to know and love over the past couple of years, however we have adapted the strategy very much to suit the Kumasi market. Of the total 18 500sqm of retail, tenants equating to more than 85% of the GLA has been confirmed to date. Many new local tenants have been secured and the mall has been pitched to cater for the various needs of the people across all levels of society. AttAfrica is responsible for the asset management of the mall and the team is quite satisfied with progress on the ground after their recent visit.

Will all the shops be ready on opening day, or will there be a more gradual roll-out?
We are providing ample support to the retailers to assist them in being ready for the big opening day; with enough guidance and motivation we believe all the retailers signed up to date will be open and ready to welcome customers into their stores.

What has been the particular challenges of building a mall in Kumasi? Anything that stood out as different from the experiences in Accra?
Electricity prices and currency fluctuations due to the economic climate in Ghana made the securing of tenants well in advance a challenge. Construction in Kumasi is logistically the biggest challenge of all, due to Kumasi being a remote location. The planning and preparation leading up to procuring and sourcing materials from abroad proved difficult as almost nothing is available locally. Because materials and equipment is extremely limited in Kumasi, a number of items that are usually available off the shelf have to be treated as long-lead items. This reduced the flexibility in tenant design alterations, but was mitigated by our decision to provide well-designed standard and modular solutions to the tenants. Looking at the bigger picture, the experience we gained over the past few years in Ghana helped us to successfully bring the project to where we are today.

Did you apply any learnings from the Accra projects to this one?
Yes those learnings are what made this possible. The design team and construction team did wonders under difficult conditions. Having said this, every project brings new and unforeseen challenges, and being on the ground in Ghana definitely helps to get quick resolutions with the assistance of our local partners.

Is anything special being planned for the opening?
Opening day is focused on creating the best environment for the tenants as a trading base.  The sheer number of people who attend the opening of a shopping centre in Ghana is overwhelming and therefore we keep the programme for the day simple. There is an exciting marketing programme building up to the opening date with events for the opening week and the coming months to make sure we keep the momentum going. This is all managed by the AttAfrica Asset Management team.  The Ashanti King and the government officials will be part of the opening event planned for early May 2017.