When the facility was officially opened in 2006 by President John Agyekum Kufuor, not much was expected of a facility that had just 14 retail shops and one anchor tenant, MaxMart. Also, when other big players started arriving a few years later, many believed doom had arrived for A&C Mall.
The adage remains that no matter how slow the tortoise is, it will still get to its destination if it is determined. Today A&C Mall is not just any other mall – it is the nation’s go-to mixed-use lifestyle center that offered such diversity that when other malls started springing up, they came to A&C to find out how it remained relevant in today’s competitive market.
Due to the relevance of A&C, subsequent malls took lessons from A&C and are now building mixed-use lifestyle centers that take into consideration the surroundings in which they are operating, instead of erecting concrete without reference to the environment.
The mall was officially opened in 2006 by President John Agyekum Kufuor. At inception, the mall had a leasable area of 6000m². The anchor shop was and continues to be MaxMart. Other sub-anchors were textile retailer Woodin, Mariner Wine and Liquor, Ecobank, and local businesses such as Pharma Scientific and INET Technologies. Within a year the whole mall was fully occupied. To complete the first phase, an additional 1500m² fuel station (currently operated by Total) was added, as well as a children’s playground.
Due to the full occupancy of the first phase of the mall, the developers moved into action to commence the construction of the second phase. Looking at how swiftly the retail space was occupied, the urge was there to go further into retail, but due to the strategy of establishing a mixed-use facility, the developers proceeded with the construction of a state-of-the-art fitness center facility to meet the community demand.
In 2008, a fully equipped gym was built with the addition of a swimming pool to attract not just shoppers but people looking to exercise and swim their way to fitness and health. With very high patronage of the fitness center, the developer’s mission to stick to a mixed-use facility was vindicated even with the arrival of competition.
With success comes more success when you continue to work hard at it. The first phase saw the establishment of a retail center and a couple of service facilities, while the second phase saw the development of a fitness center. This led to the commencement of a third phase which included office spaces, restaurants, bars and lounges.
In 2009, the developers contracted property management firm Broll Ghana to run a full market analysis and together develop a growth strategy to stay competitive within the market. This led to the appointment of Broll Ghana as property managers of the center in May 2009.
After the market analysis, the developer undertook and completed the third phase of the facility which included restaurants, lounges, bars, and offices. Today the restaurants – Koffee Lounge, Bourbon House – and the bars and lounges such as Honeysuckle, serve thousands on a weekly basis on the ground floor, with several offices located on the first to third floors of the facility. The completion of the third phase added about 6000m² leasable area to the mall.
In staying true to the vision of a mixed-use lifestyle center, a fourth phase was commissioned. Construction started in 2012 and was completed in 2015. Even though the demand for more retail space was high, the developers and managers looked into a different direction. This brought in an educational institution, Lancaster University, as the anchor tenant of the fourth phase, with some more service spaces and retail spaces occupied by banks and fashion outlets.
After the completion of the final phase, the developers upgraded the original shopping center in 2016 to a state-of-the-art facility, which created a few more lettable spaces for smaller businesses looking for kiosk space instead of a whole shop or office.
Today, the facility is the only mixed-use center with a gross leasable area of almost 30,000m² (net leasable area of 20,000m²), which makes it the largest mall in the country. No center can boast of the diversity of A&C Mall, which now houses restaurants, bars, lounges, offices, a shopping center, medical clinics, international university, fitness center, swimming pool , Total filling station and a playground.
The vision therefore took into account that, instead of a huge retail center, a multi-purpose center was the way to go. What it means is that with a mixed-use lifestyle center, the products and services are notably diverse and offer greater convenience when compared to a regular mall that offers only retail and forces people to drive long hours, since such mega-malls were usually situated on the outskirts of town.
The architectural design of A&C Mall took into consideration the tropical environment with shaded canopied walkways, naturally ventilated general areas and lush green landscape.
Several malls in the country have taken the shape of a single property on a single lot of land. But another unique advantage of A&C Mall is its ability to offer independence to its tenants, while at the same time affording them the benefits of interdependence. For example Lancaster University, in the southern wing of the mall, has no business whatsoever with the office plaza or food court which are in the north wing, or the fuel station, which is in the east wing. Yet it is easy for students to move across the car port and go dine at the food court without going past offices that do not want to be disturbed. The same cannot be said of the other malls in the country.
A&C Mall was designed with the local environment in mind, and understands the local market, as well as the power challenges and cost when it comes to power generation. That is why all general areas are shaded and ventilation is natural.
This strategic and organic development, coupled with the infusion of local intellect, makes A&C the most unique facility in the country. Before A&C, when the people of East Legon wanted to shop or eat, they had to go to Osu, Dzorwulu or other parts of the city. This mall has contributed to making East Legon what it is. People now stay here and do not bother battling the traffic to Accra Central or Osu because they can get everything they want nearby.
After a comprehensive market survey, the developers realized the lack of a homeware outlet. So was born the concept of a Home Depot-style furniture store with a kitchen and cabinet showrooms. An extension of A&C, with a size of 1.2 acres, it will be coupled with fine-dining restaurants and underground parking.See more
In 2010 the Broll Property Group was appointed to take over the management of what was then A&C Mall in the East Legon suburb of Accra, with the task of breathing new life into the five-year-old center.
“We started with three objectives: rebranding the six-acre precinct, reviewing and fine-tuning the tenant mix, and increasing foot traffic,” says Moses Luri, Broll Ghana’s head of retail leasing. “I’m pleased to report that we’ve been successful on all fronts.”
Rebranding the center to A&C Square was more than just a name change. It involved adjusting the tenant mix to suit the target market. Retailers such as Vodafone, Exotic Trendz, Koffee Lounge and Clinics were added, and this dramatically improved foot traffic. This increased consumer demand led to other retailers seeking space in the node.
When built, the property was one of the first formal shopping centers in Ghana. At almost 10,000m2 – with another 5000m2 under construction – and offering a desirable tenant mix, A&C Mall is ideally positioned to take advantage of the area’s growing middle-class consumer sector.
“Now that we’ve repositioned A&C Mall, we’re working hard to ensure that every visitor’s experience is a satisfied one,” says Luri. “This includes training the retailers in selling techniques and in how to build long-lasting relationships with their customers. We guide them on how to analyze their businesses and identify who their target markets are, then devise and implement marketing strategies to satisfy their needs. These strategies are then tied to those of A&C Mall so that we’re all working together in a harmonious and coordinated way.”
Broll Ghana is able to benefit from the experience of its South African counterpart, and experts with international expertise were brought in to assist with the turnaround at A&C Mall. Not only is A&C Mall able to make use of Broll’s patented property management software, Broll-Online, but every aspect of the business is minutely examined to ensure compliance with international best practice. Leases are managed to ensure 100% occupation, and external service providers are given key performance indicators to ensure that benchmarked and measurable service delivery standards are met.
“Retail is a tough, uncompromising and increasingly competitive space with little room for trial and error,” says Luri. “Broll Ghana has a proven track record in this field and has in-house expertise and access to specialists with loads of African experience to ensure that when we manage a shopping center, we can add value from day one. A&C Mall has undergone a metamorphosis in the past three years and we’re proud to have had a hand in it.”