Tuesday, March 26, 2019 UTC

AGF Magazine - March 2019 issue

  • We focus on fixed income opportunities in both public and private markets. Read on to find in which fixed income instruments and in which African markets to invest on pp. 10-11. In addition, Ashley Benatar of Ashburton Investments shares his views on benefits and risks of investing in mezzanine debt on p.22.
  • We speak with Jérémie Ceyrac, Head of Equity, Responsible Investments at Proparco to learn more about the French development institution, financial products on offer, recent investments in Africa and African impact investment scene (pp. 13-15).
  • This month’s market feature focuses on Nigeria. Sven Richter, Fund Manager, Drakens Capital, writes about his recent trip to the West African country and his observations. “While Nigeria is attractive as an investment destination, the GDP growth is a disappointment for a county that we expect to be one of the leaders in Africa,” he says (pp. 16-17).
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News > Private Equity > Deals

SFO Group and HC Capital Properties invest in Ivorian shopping mall

Anna Lyudvig
Dec. 13, 2018, 2:36 p.m.

Word count: 817

SFO Group, an independent multi-family office specialized in global real estate investment, development and asset management, alongside HC Capital Properties, have invested in Cosmos Yopougon, a shopping centre in Côte d’Ivoire.

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SFO Group, an independent multi-family office specialized in global real estate investment, development and asset management, alongside HC Capital Properties, have invested in Cosmos Yopougon, a shopping centre in Côte d’Ivoire.

The financial details were not disclosed.

“This project represents a key milestone in our opportunistic real estate program,” said Mohamad Abouchalbak, CEO of SFO Group. 

“Partnering with HC Capital Properties allowed us to access their on-the-ground expertise and leverage our collective experience and extensive local and international network to make this investment a financial and operating success. Cosmos Yopougon is very well positioned to benefit from Côte d’Ivoire’s thriving economy and strong supply and demand dynamics,” he said.
 
Spread across three hectares, Cosmos Yopougon is the most expansive shopping centre in the country and, significantly, bucks the format of other large-scale malls that have mushroomed in the wealthier parts of Sub-Saharan African cities. 

Yopougon, the most populous district of Abidjan, is predominantly a lower middle-class area where most consumption is through informal retail and street stalls. 

The mall has exceeded half a million shoppers since opening six weeks ago, a record for a commercial centre in Côte d’Ivoire.
 
“The impact here goes beyond numbers, or even the jobs we’re creating or the financial returns for our investors,” said Hafeez Giwa, Managing Partner of HC Capital Properties, the London and Abidjan-based developer and lead local investor in the $30m project. 

The country’s first leisure-to-retail complex, Cosmos Yopougon features a Carrefour Market supermarket, a 700-seat three-screen Majestic Cinema, an innovative children’s learning and play area, a food court, 60 stores and 30 kiosks – all connected with help from digital wayfinders. 

 “Our biggest satisfaction in the project came from the overwhelmingly positive response of locals to this totally new shopping experience,” said Mario Saradar, Chairman and CEO of Saradar Capital Holding, which is parent of SFO Group, the lead global investor in the project. 

“The convenience combined with availability of such a wide spectrum of products and experiences is a first here,” he said.
 
Having created over 500 construction jobs, Cosmos Yopougon brings a further 750 permanent positions, which in turn will directly sustain an estimated 938 new informal sector jobs – more than half of those for women and youths. 

The centre has actively sought to attract street vendors – who often struggle to cover their most basic needs – into the formal retail sector by offering leases inside the mall for as little as a month and smaller kiosks that don’t require the kit out and stock levels that shop units would. 

Demand for these kiosks has been triple the amount available, with artisans selling everything from artwork to local wines and teddy bears. 

This push toward formal retail is meaningful in a country where most groceries are purchased on the streets and only 35% from supermarkets, according to Oxford Business Group.

The issue comes down to a lack of investment in retail targeting lower to middle class households, according to Cheick Sanankoua, the Abidjan-based co-founder of HC Capital Properties.
 
“The mistake a lot of investors make is to assume that because a person has less to spend, they do not distinguish quality; in fact, a person with only a dollar to spend is more demanding on how they spend it,” Sanankoua explained. 

“In the last five to ten years, Africa has seen a lot of new shopping centres in relatively affluent areas, but now we’re getting to the second wave which targets lower to middle income groups who are used to informal retail.Cosmos Yopougon is showing that malls can bring the informal economy into the formal retail sector,” he added.
 
First-time formal retailers and low-cost stores such as ‘Bonus tout à 1000 franc’ that didn’t previously exist in Côte d’Ivoire mix with global brand leaders. 

Orange and MTN are seizing on the mall’s broad catchment area to drive their mobile money offerings, establishing their flagship stores for the country at Cosmos Yopougon. 

Carrefour Market has broadened its range of food to include items typically found in the street markets, such as local smoked fish and attiéké, an Ivorian staple made from fermented cassava pulp. 
 
“Even though these are global brands, they are operating in a way that is much more integrated into the local economy rather than just importing goods, which also means lower prices,” said Sanankoua. 

“Cosmos Yopougon enables ordinary folk for the first time to access goods with the highest international quality and hygiene standards, using the best Ivorian and international experts, and catering to a fast-changing environment where consumers are rightly becoming more and more demanding. Through its deep understanding of the international real estate market and global network, SFO Group has been the ideal strategic partner that made it possible for us to prove this concept,” he added.
 
 

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