BT Ngebs City, the newest regional shopping mall in the Eastern Cape Province town of Mthatha, officially commenced trading today.
Billion Group founder and property entrepreneur, Sisa Ngebulana this morning officially opened Mthatha’s 60,000m² BT Ngebs City – a development inspired by his entrepreneurial grandfather.
The mall boasts over 150 tenants, a number of which are retail firsts for the former homeland, signalling growing investor confidence in the region, said Ngebulana. BT Ngebs City signals the largest ever retail offering for the former Transkei.
“A comprehensive mix of tenants, including retail, fashion, banking, homeware, health, sports and entertainment, will ensure this development caters to all 478 000 households in the catchment area,” Ngebulana said.
Retail firsts to the former homeland include brands such as Timberland, Fabiani, GSTAR, Spitz, Kurt Geiger, Soviet, Earth Child, Bogart and Keedo, to name a few.
“BT Ngebs City forms part of Billion Group’s R16 billion investment earmarked for the Eastern Cape region over the next 10 years. During its construction phase, the R1.4 billion development has created approximately 4500 jobs. An additional 2 500 permanent positions will become available upon completion of the development.”
The goods and services procured during the build phase, as well as the construction jobs, came from the local community, he said.
The mall adds to the group’s already strong retail portfolio, and in the Eastern Cape joins Billion’s super-regional malls Hemingways in East London and Baywest in Port Elizabeth (Baywest is a joint-venture with Abacus Asset Management), as well as regional mall Mdantsane City in East London.
The group is also busy developing a shopping centre in Ngcobo, which is due to open in 2017, and owns Forest Hill, Sunny Park and Bloed Street in Pretoria. The group also has retail presence in Africa, namely in Nigeria and Tanzania, as well as in the UK.
“We have seen good growth with our malls, and especially with our Eastern Cape offerings,” said Ngebulana.
Market research had shown that the region was undersupplied by quality retail space to the tune of over 240,000m², said Ngebulana. He added that retailer demand for space at BT Ngebs City had been astounding, with 98% of the mall let.
Anchor Tenants at BT Ngebs City include some of South Africa’s largest retailers, such as Pick n Pay, Checkers, Food Lovers Market, Clicks, Woolworths, Truworths, Foschini, and Edgars, among others.
Phase Two of the development is already underway and includes a 100-room four-star hotel, due to open next year, as well as 10,000m² of office space.
Ngebulana said the mall was inspired by his grandfather, Tandi “BT” Ngebulana, a legendary rugby player and local entrepreneur.
“BT was my mentor,” said Ngebulana, adding that the mall signalled Billion Group’s initial steps toward uplifting and developing the Mthatha region.
BT Ngebulana settled in Corhana, just 4km outside of Mthatha, in 1949 following an illustrious sporting career in rugby as captain of the East London-based Bush Bucks Rugby Football Club. He also rose to represent Border, as well as Western Province. His many successful businesses in the area were fundamental to the ongoing development of the community. These included a soap factory, taxi business, general dealership, and a brick-making yard.
Inspired by BT Ngebulana’s investment in the community, Billion Group is spending over R60 million on roads, bulk electricity, water, sewer, wetland systems and other infrastructure that will benefit the Mthatha community.
Sisa Ngebulana is also the CEO of Rebosis Property Fund Limited, established in 2010 which is black-managed and substantially black-held property fund to be listed on the JSE.
Mthatha, formerly Umtata, is the main town of the King Sabata Dalindyebo Local Municipality in Eastern Cape.