Betts Townsend: Quality at its best

Home » Company Reviews » Betts Townsend: Quality at its best

Since its formation in South Africa 20 years ago, project management firm Betts Townsend has gained a proven track record in delivering bespoke construction projects.

The company is a merger between Betts Projects and highly esteemed project management guru, John Townsend.

Over the years, it has grown from strength to strength and expanding across Africa. Apart from the superb projects that the firm has successfully carried out, the company has also been massively expanding with foothold in South Africa, Mauritius, and East Africa.

However, the Company’s market impetus and distinction come from far more than simply their projects.

African-owned firm

Alternate director of Betts Townsend Ken Oigo who is stationed in Kenya says that giving them a major momentum to easily navigate the African market is the fact that they are 100 per cent African-owned firm.

“Being an indigenous company means that we know the market terrain on the continent. We understand the pitfalls and challenges of the market and we are well prepared to face those heads on. In 2014 our managing director relocated to Nairobi in order to be at the forefront of business development here as well as be close to the clients as possible,” explains Oigo.

“Secondly, we are a firm that is motivated by a strong entrepreneurial spirit and results-orientated family culture. We have spent a significant amount of time training our in-house staff thus giving us an impetus when it comes to managing large scale projects,” he adds.

“Another facet is quality. The reason why we have so much repeat business and so many strong client relationships is that we are noted for the quality and consistency we deliver.”

Also giving Betts and Townsend a competitive edge in the market is the high level of experience they have been able to amass for themselves over the years. The firm has particularly unrivaled experience when it comes to commercial construction project management.

But of significant importance to the firm when it comes to timely delivery of projects is their ability to be involved in every stage of construction. In this regard they make sure that they have a project management office at every single site.


Notably, Betts Townsend has focused on construction of some of the largest shopping malls in Africa for instance the Bay West Mall in South Africa and the Hub Karen in Kenya.

“Food and entertainment will always be a vital part of people’s lives from a social perspective and as a result of the emergence of the middle class, retail malls are becoming a popular destination. We have noticed a steady increase in both the number and scale of malls in South Africa in particular. This trend is also replicated elsewhere on the continent particularly in Kenya,” shares  Mr Oigo.

Mr Oigo’s observation is not farfetched. Last year, a report by Knight Frank titled The Shop Africa 2016 named Nairobi as one of the top five cities in Sub-Saharan Africa, having the largest shopping centre development outside of South Africa. According to the report Nairobi has the largest mall development hotspot with around 470,000 square metres of shopping centre space in the pipeline.

The current wave of development is creating modern malls that are setting new standards for the market in terms of size and quality. Also, among the new projects, there is a clear trend towards mixed-use development – as opposed to pure retail – as office, residential and leisure facilities converge.

“We have had a phenomenal run of business in this sector, which reflects well in the high-profile institutional clients that we have formed relationships with, where news of our successful partnership is spread by word of mouth,” says Mr Oigo.

In Kenya, say Oigo, one of the notable projects they have successfully delivered is the Hub Karen. The commercial complex comprise specialist shops, a “green supermarket”, 2,000 square metres central open space (community and social space), a blend of leisure options such as cinema, gym, spa, jogging track, lake with fishing activities, orchid garden and extensive green areas, amphitheater, over 1,000 vehicle parking slots among others.

“The hub Karen is one of the largest projects we have under our belt in Kenya.  Our aim was to bring international standards to the country in malls development while exhibiting a feel of local touch,” he explains.

An exciting point for Betts Townsend at the moment is East Africa across Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia. “We are really excited about this hub and are putting a lot of time, effort, investment and key staff members into this region.”

While Betts Townsend has for many years relied on retail developments for much of its income, today the company has a more diverse offering spanning recreational, commercial and industrial projects.

The firm has also made inroads in the hospitality industry where Betts Townsend has worked with the majority of national and international players in operation across Africa, in a whole host of project and development management roles.

Looking into the future, Oigo believes the next few years will be important to identifying the best opportunities in these markets, and growth will be based on successful delivery of current projects.

“Our projects are normally huge in size for this reason they are constantly in the limelight, therefore we can never compromise on quality,” says Mr Oigo

“Our strategic vision for the future is to better understand the market to be in a strong enough position to weather any external factors outside of our control,” he ends.