By Patrick Kagenda
Lavish offerings for those who can afford them
Located in Kololo, the upscale area just off the central business district of the Kampala City, the recently opened Acacia Mall promises to transform the shopping experience of those who can afford it. Judy Rugasira, the Uganda Country Resident CEO of Knight Frank which is managing the mall, says its primary trading area includes the neighboring communities of Kololo, Nakasero, Industrial Area, Kitante, Kamwokya, Mulago, Bukoto and Nakawa. These places have a population of 100,000 residents who Knight Frank research has found can afford to spend between US$300-$450 (Approx. Shs750,000 –Shs1 million) each per week on shopping. That is minus shopping for fashion items.
However, the mall is also designed to serve, as a secondary trading area, residents of Naguru, Kisaasi, Mbuya, Bugolobi, Ntinda, Kiwatule, Bbuye. That adds another 80,000 potential customers according to 2012 estimates.
These are the so-called “deep pocket” suburbs, which are populated by High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI), mainly in the expatriate community, corporate Ugandan society, high ranking government officials and wealthy individuals.
Many shop for leisure, spending a lot of their time at malls. They would typically do a big shop over the weekend, and visit the mall at least three times a week for fresh bread, patisseries, meats and fish. The restaurants and coffee shops at the mall are also another popular draw card for this niche of shoppers.
To cater for the lavish demands of this clientele, the mall owners – Gulfstream Investments Uganda Ltd which is a subsidiary company of the Mukwano Group of Companies, spared no effort and imagination.
The mall has a glitzy vertical layout designed for lavish shop displays, and a vaulted-glass ceiling to complete the experience. The mall is the first and only shopping mall in Uganda with a fully centralised air conditioning for a complete and comfortable shopping experience and a Building Management System (BMS).
A Building Management System (BMS) is a computer-based control system installed in buildings that controls and monitors the building’s mechanical and electrical equipment such as ventilation, lighting, power systems, fire systems, and security systems.
The BMS apart the Acacia Mall has other facilities that include high tech surveillance equipment, five escalators, lifts and three generators of 800 Kva on addition to firefighting equip throughout the mall.
Unlike other malls in the city, Acacia is right on the street. The malls external layout and its wide inviting concrete arches in tertiary colour shades of orange; from light peach to glowing apricot, appear designed to encourage the community to walk in. It also has two levels of basement parking for over 400 cars to avoiding street parking.
The malls anchor tenant is the Nakumatt Supermarket, a Kenyan retail franchise, which occupies 4,385 sqms or one-fifth of the available let-able area. Sub-anchor shops include Mr. Price Home (fashion) and Mr. Price Home both subsidiary companies of Deacons Kenya Ltd.
Also on the list of tenants is new entrants into Uganda`s fast foods industry the Kentucky Fried Chicken of USA (KFC), Caffeserrie, Century Cinemax, Le Patiserrie, Misty’s Bar (a franchise from Zambia), J & Kainembabazi Ltd, Age Safaris, Definition, and Sparkles Salon.
Acacia follows the pattern of malls that represent a golden age. In this case, it is a true a celebration of the sprouting middle-income class and confirms Uganda’s place among the fast-growing countries in the Sub Saharan Africa region that are said to have experienced a surge in economic activity over the last two decades. The money of the mall clientele is local but their tastes are aspirations are foreign.