Fernridge extends its property consulting services to the SPAR Group with online tool AfricaEye


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Africaeye

With the recent launch of AfricaEye,  an online tool created by Fernridge Consulting to generate demographic reports by geographic area, the SPAR Group can now generate quicker, more affordable, lighter reports to support decision making about retail opportunities.

The relationship

Fernridge Consulting has provided the SPAR group with all the relevant data and consultancy that relates to a geographic area or specific site that they have considered for a new store since 2002.

These insights include the catchment area, target market demographics, households by income group, how much they spend on food and groceries, competition in the area, potential for growth, market share analysis and a turnover forecast.

“Any site they look at, or before they open a store, they run it past us,” says Sybrand Strauss, managing director of Fernridge Consulting and AfricaEye. “As part of their due diligence, they come to us for a demographic assessment to help them make the decision.”

Fernridge Consulting provides accurate and up-to-date data in all these areas, equipping SPAR management with the best possible information that they can access to make the right decision.

“We’ll get shown a site by a potential developer, and we’ll approach Fernridge for an initial document that gives us all the information for the proposed catchment area,” says Morne Dreyer, new business development manager at the SPAR Group. “This helps us with a cashflow and feasibility study, and to determine the size of the store.”

When negotiations on the site progress to a point where the go-ahead seems likely, SPAR will commission a further, detailed and more in depth report. Fernridge Consulting will then put people on the job of counting houses and people, do a site visit, and produce a document providing verified specifics of the area and its population as well as the site potential.

“We’ve gone through this process so many times and for so long with Spar that while we’ve been benefiting their business with our data, they’ve also been benefiting ours as we’ve built methodologies and gained an understanding of the market around their needs. A truly mutually beneficial relationship” says Strauss.

SPAR sees the world through AfricaEye

In late 2012, Fernridge Consulting launched AfricaEye, an internet-based, geographically referenced application that allows paying users to select an area and run a report on selected demographic data. It’s a simplified, automated expression of their expertise and data that doesn’t replace the full consulting service, but gives significant early insights into an area for retailers and property developers.

Because SPAR was a current consulting client, Fernridge Consulting offered the service to them to trial.

“They’re now starting to use AfricaEye as a first stab at the potential of any site,” says Strauss. “After they bought the first batch of report voucher codes, they used them all up and bought some more. Their feedback is that it’s working for them because it’s easy to use and cost effective.”

The benefits

“AfricaEye gives us the opportunity to make decisions quicker,” says Dreyer. “Developers will deliver a proposal, and we can immediately define our own catchment area and pull a value-cash feasibility online. This can all happen within 24 hours, which allows us to make decisions very quickly on opportunities that are offered.”

He says that once they have run an initial report, if the property shows promise, they then engage with Fernridge Consulting for further consulting services to work out the detail. “It’s certainly not an alternative for a bespoke consulting report, but it’s a first step to get a better sense of a potential site,” says Strauss. “If users want to take the next step, they can then commission a more comprehensive consultation.”

AfricaEye has lowered the barrier to entry for the kind of information and basic services that Fernridge Consulting offers. It has taken the guesswork out of gaining insight into property and retail site opportunities before the hard work and analysis begins.

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