Safari Investments, the retail-focused property group that owns malls in underserved towns has doubled its portfolio by value from R1.3bn at listing in 2014, to R2.6bn.

The firm’s target is to have assets worth R3bn by the end of 2018. The group’s property revenue rose 20% year on year to R205m in the year to March 2017 compared with R170m earned during the year before.

There was a 22% increase in total built area from 153,000m² to 186,000m².

The cost of occupancy was at 5% at the end of the reporting period, compared with the market average of 6%.

National retailers occupy 89% of Safari’s portfolio. Operating costs came out at 30% of property revenue. Safari’s focus has been on township shopping centres and it has recently expanded into Namibia.

CEO Francois Marais said Safari’s shopping centres had performed well during the reporting period.

"The year under review was marked by Safari’s retailers that continued to trade well given the economic challenges faced by businesses and consumers alike. The average trading density of retailers weighted across Safari’s portfolio was R32,500/m² compared with 2016’s R31,700/m².

"The positive results of the past 12 months are reflected in the vacancy factor that improved from 4% to only 2% today, much lower than the industry level and a year-on-year comparison of trading densities per centre," said Marais.

Some in the market view Safari as a potential takeover target because many of its properties are well-located, making it attractive to larger companies struggling to find quality assets.

Absa Asset Management head of listed property Fayyaz Mottiar said Safari assets could suit Vukile Property Fund well.

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