The replication of shopping malls in Botswana, more especially its economic hub Gaborone is a development that should be welcome as it will help the retail industry grow. This was said by Tungwa Retail Holdings (TRH) co-founders Lynette Ntuli and Monalisa Samsay.
Ntuli said growth signals that investors are responding to Botswana’s particular needs in the market. Sam on the other hand compared Botswana’s retail market to the South African retail market 20 years ago saying that it started on a similar trend. But could there be any benefit to this replication? Sam responded by saying that Botswana’s market is currently going through the trial and testing period. She explained that the duplication will in actual fact develop the consumer market in that it is during this time that retailers get to really understand their customer’s needs, find out what works and what does not and also identify what must always be there. “Replication gives tangible research and data, which then makes it possible to move to new models so as to bring in new brands” she said. Sam echoed that South Africa developed its “anchors” during its trial and testing phase and it has today given rise to “independents.” Anchors are well recognized and widely accepted stores that attract a large number of customers to a mall whereas independents are much less known stores with potential to grow in the same light. TRH therefore sees an opportunity for Botswana to follow South Africa’s growth pattern. Gazette Business had earlier interviewed a local manufacturer of Amogelang Sorghum Milling who decried that his product competes with supermarkets’ house brands for shelf space, which as a result stifles his product’s reach to the market. Sam said TRH intends to harness this opportunity so as to give Botswana originated products a chance to come out, especially smaller enterprises as they can bring new products in the market. She added that the market needs to ask itself if big malls should be built all the time, “It’s not always going to work for smaller enterprises because they need infrastructure more suited to the size of their businesses,” she said.
She also said that Botswana’s sustainability makes it an ideal testing ground for international brands that wish to invest in Africa.
TRH is a South African based business development and management consultancy whose existence was inspired by the growing need for retail solutions by both the formal and informal retail traders, as well as “retailpreneurs” that have no previous experience in the established retail environment. The interview was facilitated by Afena Capital through its press club as part of its effort to marry the media with experts from various sectors of the economy.