SmartMark Limited, the operator of luxury brands, Tommy Hilfiger, Swatch, Nike, Levis, and TM Lewin in West Africa under Fastforward Stores, exited The Palms Mall, Lekki in December 2022. Through Fastforward Stores, the company runs some of the most famous luxury and lifestyle retail brands in Nigeria. They can be seen in the picture below:
Smartmark’s Footprint at The Palms, Lekki
Within The Palms Mall, the Smartmark franchise operated 5 stores that leased over 500 sqm from the centre. This represents over 3% of the entire mall’s gross leasable space. These stores include Tommy Hilfiger, Swatch, Nike, Levis, and TM Lewin. However, in December 2022, all of the stores left the mall. The exit was further confirmed by Fastforward stores through an official announcement noting they had closed their stores in the Palms Mall, but customers could still access their other stores in Lagos State. This includes Ikeja City Mall, Novare Mall-Lekki, Adeniran Ogunsanya Mall-Surulere, and Leisure Mall-Surulere.
Reasons for Departure
The reason for Smartmark’s exit was not clearly stated by the company. However, a court order pasted on the former stores indicated that Persians had a claim over the stores and had given the stores notices to quit since February 2022.
Persianas is the owner and developer of The Palms Mall chain with existing footprints in Lagos, Enugu, Ilorin, Ogun, and Ibadan.
The development had Shoprite as its major anchor retailer until 2021 when Shoprite stated it was selling out its Nigerian business.
Other events at The Palms Mall, Lekki
Another anchor retailer, Games Store, a subsidiary of South African retailer Massmart also left The Palms Mall, Lekki in December 2022. This was the same time Smart Mark left, although Games Stores’ action was a move to exit Nigeria as a whole and Africa at large, unlike Smartmark’s singular mall exit.
These exits will mean increased vacancy rates for Palms Mall, Lekki and could potentially pose a threat to its footfall. Out of the 20,000 sqm lettable space in the Palms Mall, Smartmark Limited previously occupied over 500 sqm through its various brands in 5 stores, while the Games store occupied over 5,000 sqm. Altogether, this is up to 27% of the mall’s total gross leasable space.
In order to fill in the vacancy gap, Persianas has already gotten some pop-up boutiques and fashion stores to fill in some of the spaces including Isi Omiyi, an indigenous boutique, and Peter Gurbani, a men’s focused fashion store, among others.
It is noteworthy to mention that Smartmark is not the only franchiser that has brought international luxury brands to the mall. Persianas Retail is another franchiser operating autonomously under the Persianas group. So far, they have been able to successfully launch brands including Puma, MAX Fashions, Hugo Boss, and Lacoste.
The Nigerian Retail Market at Large
The retail market in Nigeria is a bag of mixed feelings, with some retailers exiting and some others strengthening their base. The increasing currency exchange rates and inflation rates have affected major international retailers due to the inability to import and ease profit repatriation. This has caused them to exit including Shoprite and the recent Games Store. On the other hand, retailers like Pick n’ Pay have strengthened their base in the country by opening a new store in 2022.
Still, the market continues to see the budding and growth of informal and neighbourhood market stores like Prince Ebeano Supermarket, Blenco, and the like.
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