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Centum postpones Two Rivers shopping mall opening to February

Centum chief executive officer James Mworia. PHOTO | FILE
Centum chief executive officer James Mworia. PHOTO | FILE 

Investment firm Centum has once again delayed the opening of its upcoming Two Rivers shopping mall to February 14 next year, a postponement that will see tenants miss out on the Christmas shopping rush.

Centum chief executive officer James Mworia says the Sh25.2 billion mall, which was supposed to open its doors in October 2015, has been delayed due to the scale of work involved and the un-readiness of some tenants.

The delay will hit returns for investors like Old Mutual – which owns 50 per cent of the mall – and force ready tenants to miss out on the shopping spree associated with the holiday season.

“Some of our tenants were not ready to open in September and the decision was made to align everybody and move the opening date to Valentine’s Day next year,” said Mr Mworia, adding that the delays are “obviously not ideal.”

The shopping mall sits on 11 of the 102-acre property situated along Limuru Road, in close proximity to the affluent neighbourhoods of Runda, Nyari, Gigiri and Muthaiga.

Centum has in the past said that an increase in the lettable space from the initial 460,000 square feet to over 700,000 square feet at present contributed to earlier delays.

Mr Mworia, who was speaking Wednesday at an investors’ briefing following the release of the company’s half-year results, said actual construction was completed in June.

“To date, we have about 100 tenants who are actively fitting out and our focus it to open with about 140 tenants. That will give us a wide variety of retail offering,” he said.

“We do not have any issues with our investors or the retailers. We walked them through the process. We even considered the option of a soft launch but decided we should all open when everything is in place.”

Deacons, one of the clients at the mall, recently stated that “significant delays” in completing the project negatively impacted its earnings for the year to June even as it changed its opening date projection to “quarter four 2016.”

The firm, which plans to have Mr Price Apparel, Mr Price Home, Bossini and Adidas stores at the shopping complex, says the latest postponement is “difficult to take but understandable due to scale of the project.”

“We have taken early steps in reducing the exposure that comes with not being able to trade during the Christmas period,” Muchiri Wahome, Deacon’s chief executive, told the Business Daily in a telephone interview.

“All the stock destined for our Two Rivers shops have been moved to other branches. This will obviously affect out revenue projections for the current financial year but that is business for you.”

Centum’s half-year net profit for the six months to September increased 7.9 per cent to Sh2 billion, driven by income from recently acquired Longhorn Publishers and reduced forex losses.

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