Ever wanted to be locked in a shopping mall when you were a kid? Well, now you can LIVE in one if you’re based in Rhode Island. The Arcade providence, America’s first indoor shopping mall that was build in 1828, has been repurposed into a residential structure with 48 low-cost micro-lofts since it fell into decline in the late 20th century. The mall was transformed at a cost of $7 million by Northeast Collaborative Architects
Starting at $550 a month, residents can rent a one-bedroom unit from 225-800 sq. ft. Each apartment contains a kitchen, full bath with shower, built-in beds, seating and storage. There are no stoves in the units as they are designed for the people who lead busy lifestyles but the tenants can eat at freshly designed restaurants on the ground floor and enjoy vibrant evenings in a shared lounge. There’s also a shared laundry facility and a bike storage room as well as parking garage across the street. Would you live in such an apartment?
Built in 1828, America’s oldest shopping mall in Rhode Island was struggling to fill its commercial spaces and was doomed to be closed
But then Northeast Collaborative Architects came along and transformed it into a residential space at a cost of $7 million
The historic building now has 48 low-cost micro-lofts
Starting at $550 a month, residents can rent a one-bedroom unit from 225-800 sq. ft.
The apartments are based on the top two levels
There are no stoves in the units as they are designed for the people who lead busy lifestyles
But the flats contain full bath with shower
And they have cozy bedrooms with built-in beds
As well as tiny living rooms
The tenants can live a vibrant life with 17 retail stores and restaurants kept on the ground floor
This is how the mall looked in the old days
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They are the result of its two-year investigation.
What is this all about?
The big idea is that something must be done to break the inertia of the UK banking public.
Just 3% of individuals and 4% of businesses switch their banks in any one year.
The CMA has already come to the conclusion that there is not enough competition to pressurise the banks into offering significantly better or cheaper services than their rivals.
In effect the big five banks – RBS, Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and Santander – plus the Nationwide building society have their own huge, but largely captive, markets.
So the aim is to make it easier for people to switch banks and accounts, and to encourage them to save money by finding a better deal.
“The older and larger banks, which still account for the large majority of the retail banking market, do not have to work hard enough to win and retain customers and it is difficult for new and smaller providers to attract customers,” the CMA says.
What else is the CMA worried about?
The other big issue is one that has dogged the industry and its customers for many years – the ability of banks to charge more or less what they like if you go overdrawn without permission.
In 2009, the Office of Fair Trading (now part of the CMA) failed completely in a legal challenge which would have overthrown the right of banks to set their own charges as they saw fit.
Now the CMA is ordering the banks to set their own monthly cash limits – a monthly maximum charge – on just how much they can charge if you go into an unauthorised overdraft – going into the red without asking your bank in advance.
Of course that doesn’t go as far as a regulator being allowed to set a monthly limit on overdraft fees and charges.
But the fact there will be some sort of stated cash limit will make things clearer.
“Many personal customers, in particular overdraft users, could make significant savings by switching to a different current account,” says the CMA.
That particular change should happen by September next year.
What else will I see?
To encourage customers to switch or shop around, the CMA is ordering the banking industry to embrace the idea of Open Banking.
That means the financial technology industry is being invited to develop a computer application which will let bank customers run all their bank accounts, including moving money between them, even if they have several accounts spread around different banks.
At the moment the increasingly popular bank apps, which are issued by banks to their own customers for use on mobile phones, operate that bank’s accounts only.
This new, all-purpose, banking app should be able, the CMA says, to let customers upload all their banking details so that “authorised intermediaries”, such as price comparison services, will be able to tell them where the best accounts and services are to suit the way they typically save and spend.
The CMA hopes that this will encourage customers to move money around, either to avoid upcoming overdraft charges, or to gain higher interest on more generous accounts.
There are quite a few other proposals, for instance:
obliging banks to publish more information on service quality
insisting that customers are sent occasional reminders to review their banking arrangements
and making it even easier for people to move their current accounts from one bank to another by improving the current account switch service, which was introduced three years ago.
How soon will all this happen?
The CMA has spent the past two years investigating the banking industry.
Its final report, published today, is just the latest in a very long line of official inquiries into the banking industry that have been held over the past 20 years or so.
But now the CMA’s plans have been finalised and published, they have various implementation dates ranging from the beginning of 2017 to the autumn of 2018.
With little more than a large Pok Ball on the floor, a few cardboard posters and team flags posted overhead, the “gym” is little more than a marketing gimmick. But it’s a smart one. There’s bound to be plenty of Pokmon Go players there at any time (as proven by this Imgur gallery of the same spot), so offering these customers something extra is likely a good idea.
The mall is also organizing Pokmon Go events and giveaways, boasting “3 on-site Pokestops and plenty of Pokmon loose throughout the center.”
This is one of many examples in which the megapopular augmented reality game influenced actual reality. It saved an ice cream shop in Anacortes, Washington from going out of business, and a churros shop in Westminster, California added a Pikachu-shaped churro to draw in customers.
Afrinvest (West Africa) Limited, has announced the appointment of Elkin Pianim as a Director of the firm while Michael Chu’di Ejekam has been named a Director for its broker-dealer subsidiary, Afrinvest Securities Limited (ASL).
A Ghanaian national, Pianim’s appointment, the firm stated, further reflects the pan-African outlook of Afrinvest, which also has Ms. Fatumata Soukouna, a Liberian national on the board of ASL and Dr. Fidelis Nde-Che, a Cameroonian, as Chairman of its Board of Directors.
Pianim has over 25 years experience in the financial services sector, and has worked on several landmark projects across the United States, United Kingdom, Zimbabwe and Ghana. He is currently Founder and Partner at Serengeti Capital Partners Limited – an Accra-Headquartered financial services group engaged in consultancy and asset management – and his areas of expertise include consumer goods, natural resources, media and technology.
Also, Ejekam, has a proven track record of full cycle retail investment and development including site origination, equity investment, planning approvals, development management, tenant leasing, asset management and exit of the largest retail malls in Nigeria, Ghana, and the broader West African market.
As Director of Real Estate for West Africa at Actis – a $7.5bn private equity firm, which is the most active retail developer in Sub Saharan Africa – Ejekam originated over $700m in retail projects. These include the $130m Jabi Lake Mall Abuja project; $100m Ikeja City Mall Lagos project; Heritage Place, Nigeria’s first green certified commercial building; and the Accra Mall.
Ejekam also has significant experience in international real estate with a United States private real estate investment and development firm with interests in $2bn of real estate assets. He was previously a Wall Street Investment Banker at Merrill lynch in New York, and participated in $3bn of acquisition, LBO financings, IPO and leverage loans. See original posting here.
As a thought leader in Nigeria’s retail revolution, Michael Chu’di Ejekam watches the sector with a keen eye. As of late, many supermarket giants have turned their attention to Africa, hoping to become established and take advantage of the blossoming market. Out of the top 100 markets, Africa and the Middle East accounted for just 12% back in 2012, but by 2013, the number jumped to 15%, and by 2015, the regions were home to 16.2%. In this article, the Michael Chu’di Ejekam Blog will examine several huge supermarket chains that have decided to center on Africa for growth, and explain why they’ve decided to do it.
Wal-Mart aka Massmart
At a recent summit in Cape Town, Wal-Mart CEO, Doug McMillon spoke about his overall goals for the company. “So sometimes people say Walmart is not really a growth company anymore. I want to say: Well, if we layer on $50 to $60 billion, would that count, in three years?” While Wal-Mart and its various subsidiaries are active on a global scale, McMillon says that they plan to put a broad focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. “It’s not only South Africa,” he said. “The whole region has something to offer.”
Pick n Pay
“By any metric, this is the best time to be in Africa,” explained Richard Brasher, CEO of Pick n pay, at the same consumer goods forum. “You can’t hope to control Africa or anything that happens in it, but what you can do is learn to adapt.” The company operates in Botswana, Lesotho, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zambia. Brasher said that one of the keys to success is recognizing that consumers in different countries have unique needs and preferences, and that businesses must adapt to them. The company’s present goal is to expand into Nigeria, but with a mix of both small and large shops to suit the needs of individual communities. His conviction unwavering, “We have ambitious plans for this continent, and we believe there’s a bright future,” Brasher added.
Self-dubbed as the “world’s largest voluntary retail chain,” SPAR has been very active in Africa for a number of years. The company opened its first Cameroon store near the end of last year and plans to continue growing its footprint in Africa in the coming years. SPAR recently ranked seventh on the list of growing retailers in Africa, after seeing more than a 10% increase over the course of a year. It also boasted the fourth-greatest sales in the region.
With the growing middle class and increasing urbanization, consumers are beginning to appreciate a more formal shopping environment. The population is also expected to double by 2050, reaching more than 2 billion people. As the market and need for more shops continues to boom throughout Africa, it will undoubtedly prove a wise a fruitful decision for these retailers to lay down roots now.
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Michael Chudi Ejekam is known for his work in the retail development sector throughout all of Africa. He has had a hand in numerous projects, often with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa and his motherland of Nigeria. AT Kearney recently published its African Retail Development Index and rated countries based on various aspects, such as market attractiveness, country risk, market saturation, and time pressure, to determine which ones were the most desirable for retail development. Which ones came out on top? You’ll find the answers below, in this Michael Chudi Ejekam blog.
The prior report listed Gabon as number five, but the recent increase in growth helped it earn the top spot this time around. According to the report, Gabon has the most stable middle-class, and one of the highest per-capita income levels of any Sub-Saharan nation, which sits at around $21,000. Moreover, newcomers to the market don’t face serious struggles due to heavy competition because it’s just now beginning to blossom.
For similar reasons, Botswana climbed from number eight to number two on the list this year. The country has a very diverse economy, drawing revenue from mining, agriculture, and tourism. It’s a natural place for retailers to head to, and many of the big players in retail have become well-established already. Choppies, for example, has more than 70 locations there. This makes it more difficult for a newcomer to get established, though companies with a unique proposition or product still do well and the market continues to grow.
GDP growth makes Angola a very attractive place to do business. In these terms, it’s one of the fastest growing areas, with a 7% annual increase. However, it is still small (approximately 1/8 the size of Nigeria) and the middle-class population is nearly non-existent. Businesses that do well in Angola recognize this, and tend to cater to only the affluent Angolans or the very budget-conscious consumers.
Despite economic struggles, Nigeria remains a powerhouse for retail development. The population is massive, plus the middle-class is large and growing. Many citizens still favor local shops and small outlets, but the increase in urbanization is changing this as well. Numerous malls have been constructed and big companies like Shoprite have put down roots. Companies that do very well right now are catering to the loyalty of Nigerians, and are using locally-sourced goods whenever possible.
These four countries beat out all others, including South Africa, in terms of desirability for retail development. As time passes, we’re sure to see great things emerge from these markets, and positive results from those who enter them with a sound business plan.
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Three Tips to Make Your Nigerian Retail Venture a Win
Michael Ejekam has experience choosing the best retail ventures throughout Africa and America. His experiences have served him, the companies he has represented, and individual investors well. This has also helped Michael Ejekam become known as a thought leader in the Nigerian retail revolution, but some of the expertise comes from watching what’s happening in other parts of the world, and knowing which business strategies help businesses succeed in unique economic environments. The retail industry in Nigeria is still strong and a good opportunity for entrepreneurs, but it’s important to include the following three things into your business plan as you start your retail company.
1. Be Prepared to Stay
“Make very sure Africa is where you want to be,” advises Christo Wiese, Chairman of Shoprite Holdings. He’s South Africa’s richest man, and weathering the conditions is easier for him, but he makes a fine point. All too often, new businesses are not prepared to accept losses with their gains. There will be times when business is slow, and smart entrepreneurs allow for this in their long-term strategies. When they come unprepared to stay, they exit the market quickly.
2. Take Advantage of Ecommerce Opportunities
The people of Nigeria love online shopping, more so than the people of other nations. Only 60% of Kenyans use the internet for shopping, and in South Africa, the number climbs to 70%, but here in Nigeria, a massive 90% of the population shops online. Throughout the world, we are seeing a unique mixture, where businesses are providing a seamless experience from online stores to their physical locations. Managing Director at Netplusdotcom, Wole Faroun, says that the key is in incorporating point of sales (POS) systems and using them. Consumers can take advantage of being things online, but they also use systems in places like the movies, when they make use of a kiosk to purchase tickets and avoid a line. There are also companies like Amazon, that operate primarily online, but are branching out into small satellite stores, to generate more awareness for the brand and so people can experience the merchandise firsthand. “When you look at point of sale holistically, and as an e-commerce player you begin to see opportunities where you were not playing before,” explains Farun, “and if you start playing in those areas, you’ll see that there’s a win.”
3. Use Locally-Sourced Goods
Forex shortages have affected retailers quite a bit, but they haven’t affected all Nigerian retailers “A lot of retailers have been able to adapt, and some that initially pulled out have come back into the market,” says Obinna Onunkwo, a co-managing partner at Purple Capital. “Those of them that had the foresight to look for local alternatives, or local producers are doing relatively well – those that were not able to make that transition are doing badly.”
Michael Ejekam understands the retail environment in Nigeria and still believes this is a good time for people to begin a business, but also adds that much of one’s success has to do with the strategy a business creates. Although these three tips may not be a comprehensive strategy for success, it’s a good start for anyone looking to get into the game right now.
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Through the years, Michael Chu’di Ejekam has had a hand in the development of several malls throughout Nigeria and Africa as a whole. These retail spaces aren’t just a sign of a growing economy, or even of improving lifestyles for people. For Nigeria’s unemployed young workers, they may be a sign of hope. This Michael Chu’di Ejekam blog explores the unemployment issue in Nigeria and how retail just might be a key piece in solving it.
A “Society in Danger of Destruction”
Not too long ago, the president and CEO of Dangote Group in Nigeria used that phrase to describe the difficult employment situation. Aliko Dangote spoke out about the dangers associated with unemployment in a 2015 editorial, which served as an open letter to the Buhari administration. Referring to youth unemployment (up to age 34) as “the monster that has kept our teeming youths on the fringes of human existence,” he called for the administration to “slay” it. “Our entire society is in danger of destruction unless we pay attention to this huge segment of our young and jobless global population,” he added. Around that time, youth unemployment rested around 50%, an astounding level that no doubt contributed to countless other issues throughout the country.
Retail Could Help Break the Cycle
Naturally, as the population grows, so, too, does the unemployment rate. The good news is, retail could play key role in reducing youth unemployment throughout the country. Broll Nigeria recently held aroundtable discussion called “Retail Industry: 10 Years from Now,” and the industry experts concluded that retail could be the biggest employer of youths in the coming years. Bolaji Edu, CEO of Broll Nigeria, offered further insights into the industry. “Despite a challenging environment,” he said, “Nigeria still holds promise for investors who are willing to take a long-term approach on investments.” However, the government will play a large role in whether retail continues to expand and create jobs. “The outlook for the retail sector is largely dependent on economic reforms as well as the lifting of foreign exchange restrictions,” Edu added.
So, although retail may not be a magic bullet that slays the beast, it very much could be with the right governmental procedures and policies in place. This would not only impact the Nigerian youths of today, but will build for a better future for the country overall.
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Michael Chudi Ejekam has been active in the commercial real estate market both in Africa and in the United States. With a core focus on selecting strong real estate investments, he’s had a hand in the creation of millions of dollars in retail space. Naturally, the real estate market in Africa is different than that of the United States, and the rest of the world for that matter, but we are seeing some global trends in how entrepreneurs are making the most of their space and paving the path to success. While the deals that Michael Chudi Ejekam helps bring to fruition are a catalyst, it’s the strategies we’re seeing implemented now that are helping businesses reach new heights in our increasingly connected world.
Although we’re all familiar with the model of having an anchor store or two paired with other smaller venues, one of the newest trends puts multiple retailers under a single roof in a shared space. It’s akin to a traditional market, yet in a formal retail setting. Google is one of the best-known brands to do this. The companylaunched an immersive shop inside Currys PC World, a London department store. The goal of the Google store was to give consumers a chance to try out Google products and truly experience them before they made a purchase. The company says they plan to open more using the same model.
Short-term spaces are nothing new, either, but we’re seeing more of them in the formal setting as well. While traditionally reserved for holiday or seasonal goods, and perhaps even a roadside stand could be considered the same, today’s pop-up shop is highly organized. The trend may have begun as landlords who could not fill long-term spaces agreed to short-term leases, but the concept has blossomed into certain venues only offering up retail space for short periods of time. There are now even companies that specialize in connecting landlords with tenants in a peer-to-peer marketplace. While still used for seasonal goods, pop-up shops have also become an attractive option for businesses that want to improve branding efforts or increase awareness of their normally online enterprise.
Commingling Real World and Online Experiences
Many of the big-name brands, like Target and Amazon, have started creating hybrid stores. These shops have a limited amount of merchandise, giving consumers the opportunity to hold and experience a product before they buy it. This is immensely important in the tech industry, and this is where Amazon shines. Their stores are primarily billed as bookstores, but they have Kindles and other devices, as well as classes on how to use them, so consumers feel more comfortable and familiar with their products. When shoppers don’t find the book they’re looking for in the store, seamless ordering is just a click or a tap away.
As emerging markets continue to grow, these trends throughout the world will likely come into play. Retail has come a long way, and these strategies will help usher them into entrepreneurial success.
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Michael Ejekam was part of the team that brought Heritage Place to fruition. As Nigeria’s first green certified commercial building, it has paved the way for other buildings and raised the standards for commercial development. The building, itself, is sleek and modern, very much befitting of the busy commercial district it serves in Lagos and most people wouldn’t realize how much thought went into incorporating green features from the start. This Michael Ejekam blog will cover three of the ways Heritage Place went green, along with some insights as to why these changes are necessary for all structures going forward.
1. Recycled Water
There are two main kinds of recycled water; graywater and brown/blackwater. The latter tends to refer to water from toilets and other dirty sources, while graywater has less impurities and comes from things like washing hands. One may also think of harvested rainwater as recycling, simply because it can be gathered from areas that don’t need it and used in areas that do. Systems that recycle rainwater and graywater are becoming commonplace in commercial structures, built in from the start. The water is cleaned and then used for things like irrigation and toilets. The obvious benefit to this is that less drinkable water is needed for a building, and consumption can drop in the neighborhood of 20-30%.
2. Building Orientation
One of the easiest things for builders to take into account is the orientation of the building. This is a passive way to provide energy efficiency and keep people inside the building more comfortable. Simply by choosing the ideal shape of the building and angling it properly, the building can naturally minimize solar exposure. Heritage Place is set up this way, which reduces the load on cooling units throughout the building, so they run more efficiently and last longer, and it also keeps people inside more comfortable, with less effort. You’ll also note that the structure of Heritage Place has multiple jaunts and awnings, which helps minimize solar exposure as well.
3. High-Efficiency Lighting
Nowadays, we all know that the type of bulb used matters. The old incandescent bulbs are energy hogs and need constant replacement. Fluorescent lighting is a better option, but beyond this, LED lighting is the best available right now. The bulbs last seemingly forever and use very little energy, saving money on power, labor, and replacements. Heritage Place took this a step further and included presence detectors, so the lighting only operates when people are active and in a room.
These are three simple things that nearly any builder can do to help create a greener building, without having to spend huge amounts of money to make it happen. Moreover, they save on the costs of maintaining the building, which seriously adds up over time.
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Michael Chu'di Ejekam is a Commercial Real Estate Developer born in Nigeria. He is a graduate of "The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania", a private Ivy League university business school located in Philadelphia.
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