Gateway Theatre of Shopping celebrates 21 years of growth and inspiration

Since Gateway’s launch twenty one years ago, it has flourished as both a retail hub and a catalyst for economic development along the KZN North Coast.  At its inception, Gateway played a fundamental role in the broader R3,5-billion plus development of the KZN North Coast.  The R1.4-billion Gateway Theatre of Shopping was the ‘anchor tenant’ to the New Town Centre and remains one of the largest malls in the southern hemisphere and the top 100 largest malls in the world.

Chief executive officer of Old Mutual Properties (OMP), Sakina Nosarka said “Gateway has proven to be one of the biggest retail success stories in the country. OMP’s bold decision in 1998 to build a super-regional mall in a field of sugarcane came with significant risks.”

Informed by the thinking behind the likes of the Mall of America and West Edmonton Mall, Gateway was designed to open out onto Palm Boulevard and integrate with the evolving Umhlanga New Town precinct. Gateway has grown from 118,000 sqm when it opened in 2001 to 176,000 sqm. The centre opened its doors with 117 tenants and has grown to 370 retailers today, 54 whom have been trading since the onset.

Gateway provides a base for over 7,500 formal jobs as well as seasonal work and supports a supply chain that is integral to the KZN economy. Nosarka added, “Gateway has set an important example when it comes to growth and retail innovation as well as investment in sustainability, social inclusion and community.”

The centre continues to consciously dedicate a large portion of its space to entertainment. This investment in the shopper experience not only introduced the concept of ‘shoppertainment’ to South Africa but also helped build a vibrant tourism industry in the region. Gateway is currently seeing excellent growth year-to-date with turnover at 34% ahead of 2021 figures. Compared to pre-Covid levels in 2019, the centre is showing positive growth of over 21%.

With the shifts in retail trends and shopper behaviour during Gateway’s 21-year history, adjustments to tenant mix and the development of new spaces around the mall are key to its performance. The centre has intentionally evolved over the years and continually responds to market demands to remain relevant and a major contributing factor to the property’s success.

Stores like Zara, Skins Cosmetics, Mango, Dior and many others have chosen Gateway as the platform from which to launch their brands into the KZN market. “We believe our tenant mix is true to our customer needs.  We host many “first and only” stores in KZN and attract desirable international brands.  Many of our retailers invest in flagship stores at Gateway and offer an experiential store design,” Norsaka says.

Gateway’s 21st birthday celebration comes on the back of the announcement of a multi-million-rand upgrade of the Great Hall around its entrance axis as well as the two adjacent vaulted wings. This will be completed in two phases before and after the festive break.

In 2022 Gateway has decreased its energy consumption by 30%. This is in line with OMP’s aim for carbon neutrality within the next 20 years resulting in the replacement and upgrades to incorporate latest technologies and efficiencies – including lighting, sanitary ware, escalators, lifts and air conditioning chillers. Norsaka concluded, “Gateway believes in partnerships and good business.  Our successes are our retailers’, entrepreneurs’, suppliers’ and partners’ successes too.  We aim to create sustained outcomes that drive growth, whilst strengthening our environment and the communities of which we are a part.”