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Online marketplace SpaceMatch connects retail landlords to tenants

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Commercial trader property listing firm SpaceMatch has introduced an online marketplace that allows shopping centre landlords to list their vacant properties for prospective tenants to view and secure for rental.

SpaceMatch, which bills itself as 'Airbnb for retail space', allows landlords to list their property sites free of charge, while potential tenants register on the site and apply to rent retail shops and pop-up spaces that suit their needs and budget.

The Web-based portal lists vacant spaces from shopping centres, malls and property owners across Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, with property giants like Flanagan & Gerard, Atterbury, Growthpoint, Attacq, Zenprop, Redefine and Eris among those already listed on the platform.

“Think about it as a matchmaking service for landlords and tenants that offers the convenience of Airbnb,” says SpaceMatch CEO Kevin Singer.

“Retail is an industry in flux, and SpaceMatch is entering the market to provide a new platform for landlords to find tenants and vice versa.”

The new portal comes as retail markets worldwide are reeling from the effects of COVID-19 lockdowns that have significantly impacted the buying behaviour of consumers and the sales strategies of retailers.

SpaceMatch says it has disrupted traditional models by offering a model that is online and almost instant, by supporting all types of entrepreneurs, from small-scale artisans to big brands.

Traditionally, long-term rentals often take months to find and secure, and SpaceMatch says it seeks to provide an alternative to a long process that works with the fast-paced, technologically-savvy modern market.

Listed space owners display images of the vacant retail space on the site, control when and how their spaces can be used, and can accept or reject any enquiries.

The whole transaction, including legal contracts and FICA verifications, can be done online and concluded in a matter of days.

Once a rental has been secured, the space owner pays SpaceMatch a commission from the transaction.

The site also offers information on industry trends, as well as other informative content.

“Internationally, short-term rental is the way of the future, as businesses explore ways to straddle online and in-store models. SpaceMatch recognises this, while still offering a vehicle for longer rentals as our local market adapts to new ways of operating,” notes Singer.

Potential tenants include entrepreneurs who are launching a new business, as well as established retailers that want to try something new. It is a model that can adapt to the needs of both parties.

SpaceMatch currently has more than 120 properties listed and is adding more daily, with the company saying it aims to increase that to 1 000 properties by mid-year.

As the portfolio grows, more services will be provided, including photography, music, shop-fitting and design.

The company says in the distant future, it also wants to provide an incubation platform, which will educate and mentor emerging entrepreneurial retailers, to achieve their growth ambitions.

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