The Far Property Company (FPC) says it has expanded its presence to Zambia with the acquisition of a mall in Lusaka whose anchor tenant is Choppies Store.
FPC, whose main shareholders; Ramachandran Ottapathu and Farouk Ismail are also the largest holders of shares in Choppies, predominantly operates in Botswana with 161 properties worth P1.1 billion. The company also has operations in South Africa where it holds 23 properties with a value of R263 million.
According to the company’s 2017 annual report, the new Zambian property was transferred to the group in August 2017. “This investment is FPC’s first Zambian property, diversifying the geographic reach of the portfolio. Choppies is the anchor tenant of the new centre. FPC will take advantage of Choppies strategy of targeting growth in the underserved Zambian market, which has little formal retail penetration but one of the fastest growing populations in sub-Saharan Africa. Other notable tenants are Standard Chartered Bank Zambia Limited, Stanbic Bank of Zambia Limited, Finance Bank of Zambia Limited, First National Bank of Zambia Limited, AB Bank of Zambia Limited and List Café,” the company stated.
Choppies chief executive officer, Ottapathu recently told BusinessWeek that the retail group plans to open eight more stores in Zambia in the current financial period ending June 2018. During the year, the company says it grew its Botswana portfolio through concluding six acquisitions and is now working on six new developments with overall capital expenditure of over P100 million. Amongst some of the new developments in progress include commercial and industrial developments in Tsabong, Kasane, Mogoditshane, Gantsi, Broadhurst, Tlokweng, Metsimotlhabe, Thamaga, Ramotswa, Kang and a warehouse at Gaborone International Commerce Park.
In South Africa, the company says the weaker rand, high unemployment; political uncertainty and the downgrading of the country’s sovereign credit ratings took a toll on business and consumer confidence. “Although the portfolio in South Africa has been resilient in terms of performance, we will continue to take a conservative approach to future developments in the country. FPC delivered a good performance for the year ended June 30, 2017. We successfully enhanced our portfolio, completing a number of projects in the pipeline. This growth was achieved by increasing our property portfolio by adding sizable acquisitions,” the company stated.
FPC says it is in the process of making several acquisitions of new investment properties in South Africa and developing a new 2,472m2 Choppies distribution centre in Rustenburg.