100 www. bus- ex. com July 09 from the US were engaged to form a master plan on what was once Durban's municipal rubbish dump. Over 300,000 tons of waste landfill had to be excavated before construction could begin but in October 2001, Gateway opened its doors with 140,000m2 of GLA ( gross lettable area). " At the time Gateway was the largest shopping centre in the southern hemisphere," says Raw, " but it still got off to a slow start. It's fair to say that tenants, particularly the smaller, independent ones, were disappointed. Then there were only 90 tenants compared with the 400- plus we have today." Nevertheless, the presence of Gateway became something of a magnet and considerable residential development took place, but this was once again carefully managed to preserve the overall feel of the region. At least 4,000 new homes have been built in the close proximity and Gateway now attracts 24 million visitors a year. What's more, its catchment area is one of the most affluent in the country. It's the sort of complex where one would reasonably expect to find a casino among the many other entertainment attractions but Old Mutual has resisted the temptation. " There are already two casinos nearby that compete with us," says Raw, " but Old Mutual prefers to remain with its family- oriented image and business strategy in which gaming wouldn't be an appropriate fit." Gateway is unique in South African retail circles, in that approximately 40 per cent of its GLA is directed towards entertainment of one kind or another. There are cinemas and theatres, cafés and restaurants, and it has one of only two IMAX screens in the country. It opened the first artificial wave machine and provides a skateboard park for youngsters and a concert arena in its Wavehouse complex. There's the Science Centre where students from the region's outlying schools can come along and experience hands- on experiments. In addition, Gateway's 6,500m2 Virgin Active gym has two pools
Gateway They are trained and encouraged to interact with customers, offering assistance or directions when asked, or even when they simply sense that someone needs help. Typical real- life scenarios and case studies form part of the training process and are given to staff in the form of an easy- to- read comic book. " It's very rewarding," says Raw, " to see someone, with little or no customer service experience, blossom and develop into a confi dent and capable staff member who can then win promotion up through the ranks." Gateway also supports its retailers via a third- party consultant. " Some of them are really quite naïve about their business," says Raw. " Our consultant, Resolutions, offers help with product selection, merchandising and window-dressing; anything to grow their business." Not wishing to kill the golden goose, a sensitive partnership between developers and planners has largely retained the simplicity and charm of the area, while providing residents and offi ce workers with some of the best retail facilities in the world. - Editorial research by Don Campbell July 09 www. bus- ex. com 101 and a current membership base of approximately 8,000. Gateway undertakes an enormous amount of work in providing customer service training for the 450 members of its service provider staff who are responsible for such roles as security, cleaning, parking, landscaping and waste management. " Employing security guards is not diffi cult," says Raw, " but their previous training doesn't give us the kind of personnel we want. They come with a hard military style and we want something far more approachable. Similarly, the cleaning staff who arrive from the poorest backgrounds often need encouragement and a boost to their self- esteem in order that they can interact with customers in the way we want." Gateway has developed some novel methods of training. First, it exposes all new staff to the centre's facilities. They go to the IMAX and experience the attractions at the Wavehouse. They might even have the very fi rst restaurant meal of their lives at Gateway. It's all part of the process of explaining how customers are attracted to Gateway by the quality of the shopping experience and that staff are an integral part of that experience.