3 Tips on Expanding an International Company into Cape Town

Cape Town City Centre Financial District

Cape Town CBD by Infrastructure photos


Over the years, we’ve had the pleasure of assisting a number of international companies to expand their business into South Africa. Accessing a new market significantly overlaps with real estate strategy, identified by JLL as one of the top four factors motivating location decisions. Therefore, real estate strategy should align with business strategy and objectives as far as possible.

Here are some of the key elements of location planning for international occupiers to consider in evaluating a new market opportunity in South Africa, with a particular focus on the Cape Town market.

1. Do your homework on your South African market opportunity

In our experience, companies who undertake a thorough feasibility analysis or audit on the contemplated local market opportunity make the most scalable and agile real estate decisions. The quality of the feasibility analysis is especially evident when companies consult with real estate professionals, where clear expectations and market information from the analysis accelerates the decision making and evaluation process. When a market opportunity has been clearly defined with well-established parameters, a real estate consultant is able to turn this data into clear property variables such as market geography, gross lettable area, gross rental and space planning requirements. A example of this is global cycling brand Specialized Bicycles (headquartered in Mountainview, California), where a thorough feasibility analysis assisted them in successfully identifying a property solution in order to enable a quick market expansion strategy into the Tygervalley market (read more on the case study by clicking here)

2. Manage staff requirements and expectations

It is always challenging to maintain employee satisfaction when considering a new office location in a different market. However, thorough investigation and successful change management strategies have shown to significantly assist in establishing a new market presence. We have assisted international Business Process and Outsourcing firm EXL to open their first African office in Cape Town, which created more than 400 new jobs in the city. Throughout the process, continuous communication with the EXL team headquartered in India gave them on-the-ground facts on transport nodes, amenities and the lifestyle expectations of staff. As a result, the team in India was able to share local insights, professional recommendations and area analyses to the staff who would relocate to South Africa. The company has been positioned in the Portside Tower, otherwise known as Cape Town’s tallest building (read more on the case study by clicking here)

3. Clearly define operational requirements

A clearly defined operations plan with quantifiable metrics significantly influences a decision on location or node in Cape Town. The Mother City’s coastline and mountain ranges have varying impacts on different nodes, which means that operational requirements become even more significant. For example, Woodstock is one of the highest growing mixed-use nodes in Cape Town, with its location on the CBD periphery offering an operational advantage positioned just outside of the inner-city’s congestion. In terms of culture, the area compares well to Brooklyn in New York having attracted various high-profile marketing, media and creative companies. The European Bar School (EBS, headquartered in Barcelona, Spain) found this location to balance operational and cultural requirements of their target market, staff and . The successful outcome depended on the EBS team’s well structured expectations and the real estate consultant’s time investment into understanding all of the company’s key business requirements. (read more on the case study by clicking here)




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