After five years of operations, Prada has permanently shuttered its lone South African store, an 8,611-square-foot space in a luxury retail wing of the Sandton City shopping complex known as the Diamond Walk. The store, designed by architect Roberto Baciocchi, carried women’s and men’s ready to wear, leather goods, accessories and footwear collections.
The Prada boutique, which was launched with great fanfare in 2015, did not open this week when South African president Cyril Ramaphosa said the country was, beginning May 1, on “level four lockdown,” part of a staged reopening of the economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Level five lockdown, the most restrictive, was imposed on March 26.
Under level four, a limited number of stores are allowed to operate, and apparel stores are only allowed to sell winter clothing, in line with the arrival of the Southern Hemisphere winter.
Among the international brand stores open in Sandton City, albeit observing reduced trading hours, are Emporio Armani, Pringle, Superga and Tiger of Sweden. Prada’s neighbors in the Diamond Walk, such as Louis Vuitton and Dolce & Gabbana, are “temporarily closed.”
Reached for comment, a Prada spokesperson in Milan said, “We can confirm that the Prada store at Johannesburg Sandton City mall has recently been closed, due to an ordinary optimization of the retail network.” No further details were provided.
The Italian luxury powerhouse did write a brief letter to the “Prada South African community” to say, “We are writing to inform you that the Prada store at Johannesburg Sandton Mall is now permanently closed. We take this opportunity to thank you for being part of our community and look forward to welcoming you in our Prada stores around the world.”
Although it has the most developed luxury brand market in Africa, luxury retail has been struggling in South Africa due to continued economic turbulence.