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Spar coming to Abia.

image Spar, an international retail chain and franchise with approximately 12,500 stores in 35 countries globally, has indicated interest to take a large portion in the Abia Mall with construction value of N3.1 billion.

Spar is taking about 3,200 square metres in the mall to extend its outlets in Umuahia, the Abia State capital. According to the project developers, the mall which would have a 24-hour electricity and free parking space, considered as a one-stop destination for dining, shopping, entertainment, banking and telecommunications, would boost the economy of the state in the region.

The project, sited in Umuahia, which would likely be commissioned in April next year, is expected to open up the seemingly quiet Umuahia city as other retail merchants also indicate interest in the mall to reach the South Eastern market.

Speaking with BusinessDay on the mall project which started in 2013, the director, Abia Retail Company, Chuka Okoye said the mall, which sits in 12,550 square metres, was a product of a study that showed that the city was in dire need of a mall.

Confident of the economic viability of the project in the state, Okoye said the mall alone would generate over 1600 direct and indirect jobs in the state capital, assuring tenants that the mall management had put in place arrangement to promote good business relationship, hence to encourage growing businesses.

“We have over 60 percent of the mall occupied already, we have dragged global brands like Spar and others to Abia State,” Okoye said, expressing delight that after answering government officials’ questions initially on the project, the Abia State government threw its weight behind the mall.

Okoye explained that the construction work was delayed when the job was taken from the initial contractor – New Technics Construction Company to Formwork in November 2013.

Also speaking at a stakeholders’ engagement in Lagos on the mall, Chikamnayo Eze, commissioner for information, Abia State, said “the project is private partnership arrangement with the developers,” saying however that though Aba was the commercial nerve centre of Abia State, but the project was well positioned at Umuahia, which is fast growing and surrounded by cities and towns that would also patronise the mall.

He commended the governor of Abia State, Theodore Orji for the enabling environment, which is necessary for investment, especially on security as Abia was now more peaceful for which the governor had received awards.

In his short speech at the meeting, the managing director of Spar, Haresh Keswani was happy on the peaceful nature of the state, saying this will ensure that business thrives, and called on other tenants who have indicated interest to start their design and construction on time so that the mall will begin full business the same time. He said retail as a business was the global largest employer, stating that oil and gas could contribute significantly to the economy but the sector cannot employ much.

According to a survey, the Nigerian formal retail industry has evolved significantly over the years, with investments in the sector growing to over N205.4 billion in the last two years.

Source: Business Day.

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