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Success Mantra of 'Mall culture' in the country
Source: Sreehari Nair, The Economic Times Dec 17, 2009
While the mall culture in India is surely rising, the moot question is, how many of them succeed in what they set out for. As organised retailing in India grows, tier II and tier III cities, especially, are seeing hectic activity in the mall space.

The Indian retail market, which is the fifth largest retail destination globally, has been ranked as the most attractive emerging market for investment in the retail sector, by AT Kearney's eighth annual Global Retail Development Index (GRDI), in 2009. The share of retail trade in the country's gross domestic product (GDP) was between eight to 10 per cent, in 2007. It is currently around 12 per cent and is likely to reach 22 per cent, by 2010.

The organised retail sector, which currently accounts for around five per cent of the Indian retail market, is all set to witness a surge in large-format malls and branded retail stores, in south India, followed by the north, west and the east, in the next two years.

According to the report, 'Mall Realities India 2010', by leading property consultants, Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj and Cushman & Wakefield India, in association with Shopping Centres Association of India, over 100 malls with over 30 million sq ft of new shopping space, are projected to open in India, between 2009 and the end of 2010.

Positioning of a mall
"Mall management isn't just about controlling the crowds and security, but it starts right from the time when the mall is being designed. Before building a mall, it is very important to understand the demographics of the area. You cannot plan a super-luxury mall, in an area where the spending power is not much," says T Anupam, associate vice-president, Korum Mall. Korum is a newly-opened mall in Thane, along the Eastern Express Highway.

Location of the mall is one of the main factors that decides its success. Good visibility and access via roads are some of the main prerequisites for a mall. Zoning of the mall comes next. This essentially means, deciding which tenants would occupy what space and where. It is very important to have the right mix of tenants at the right place, so as to ensure smooth flow of customers.

"When we were conceptualising Nirmal Lifestyle, we studied other world-famous shopping destinations, like Oxford Street, etc., and came up with the idea of having an open space mall. People can hang around and also window shop, at the same time," says Dharmesh Jain, managing director, Nirmal Lifestyle.

The anchor tenant also plays an important role, as it is the one that would attract the crowds. For example, anchor tenants, like Shoppers Stop and Lifestyle stores, at Inorbit Malad, have been placed in such a way that they both have individual entrances. For the rest of the stores, there is a common entrance to the mall, which avoids crowding at the foyer.

Promotions and marketing
You have to create visibility in the market, to get the desired footfalls. Timely events and promotional activities in the mall, will make sure that you remain in the news. Food festivals, exhibitions, film promotions, are some of the examples of promotional activities that malls often undertake. According to Jain, the challenge today, is to constantly keep the interest of the people high. "We talk to our retailers on a regular basis, to know the consumer trends," he explains.

Facility management
Facility management refers to the integration of people, place, process and technology, in a building. It means optimal utilisation of resources, while ensuring well being of the tenants, providing good ambience and traffic management. "You have too see to it that all things promised to the retailer are being delivered, that the ambience of the mall is maintained and there is a smooth flow of traffic, along with enough security," says Anuradha Gandhi, business head, Property Solutions.

Anupam says that a well-managed mall will always attract retailers, as well as consumers. "The design of a mall also makes a lot of difference. There are two famous designs which have proven to be most attractive - 'Racetrack' (circular in shape) and 'Dumble design' (shops along the corridor)," he elaborates. Even simple things, like clean toilets, can make people come back to the mall, points out Gandhi.

The issues
"During the upswing, many jumped on to the bandwagon to grab a share of the profits. However, they totally misunderstood the common man's psyche. Just building a mall will not get you the footfalls; you need to have the right mix of everything - from tenants, to design, to hospitality," insists Jain.

Tag: Real Estate India, India Properties, Commercial Properties, Mall Culture
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