Mushrooming shopping malls has painted Kochi as the shopping hub of Kerala. Five shopping malls function in Kochi in a retail space of 35 lakh sq ft. valued at 2,000 crore of investment and employs 10,000 people. The concept of luxury shopping was changed with the arrival of mammoth Lulu Mall at Edappally. The “Lulu effect” is evident in the sector and it has even accelerated city’s infrastructure development, tourism, hospitality and real estate sectors. The efforts of Bay Pride, Oberon and Gold Souk should be appreciated as these malls played a crucial role in introducing a new shopping culture in Kochi and a loyal customer base.
Apart from lifestyle change and huge inflow of NRI money, the earning capacity of youngsters in the state has doubled in the recent years and they intend to spend more money in shopping malls. Obviously, the boom in Information and Communication Technology, Tourism and Real Estate sectors has revolutionized the standard of living beginning from shopping to housing.
Making Kochi a shopper’s paradise five more shopping malls with an investment of Rs 1,000 crore are expected to come up in the city in next five years. Kerala is becoming as a consumer state. Leading financial analyst K. V. Shamsudeen, Director of Sharjah-based Barjeel Geojit said around 1.65 million Keralaites work abroad and most of them spend money for shopping, housing and entertainment purposes. “NRI money hitherto was gone to unorganized sectors. In fact, the state government was not even getting the deserving revenue from the tax often. The mall culture is imperative for state’s development,” he said.
The real beneficiary of shopping mall culture is the state government as the promoter of the mall has to give a bill inclusive of tax for all goods said Shamsudeen who is also the Chairman of Pravasi Bharatiya Welfare Trust, an organization to assist troubled lower-and middle-income NRIs. “The increase of malls will increase government’s revenue too. It would give consumers quality products and multiple choices for shopping. Conveyance is another factor that attracts major chunk of youngsters to shopping malls. From shopping to dining, everything can be done easily at one roof,” he pointed out.
Mall culture: The beginning
The establishment of Bay Pride Mall, Marine Drive, promoted by Abad Builders, heralded a new era in the business history of Cochin. The first mall in Kochi as well as in Kerala gave a new shopping experience to the citizens by offering world-class garments, fashion wears, foot wears, lifestyle goods, office goods and household goods. However, the beginning of Oberon Mall, the first full format mall in Kerala, created rapid strides in retail sector. The Oberon Mall promoted by Oberon Group of Companies evoked the need of a luxury shopping mall and its potential in fastest growing Kochi city. The Mall also transformed Edapally Bypass as one of the busiest shopping avenues for the city of Cochin.
Palarivattom-Edapally Bypass, a retail hub
With the arrival of shopping malls and boom in retail market, Edapally Bypass has grown as hub of retail business not only in Kochi but also in Kerala. Palarivattom-Edapally Bypass witnessed large-scale developmental activities with the functioning of 3.5 lakh sq.ft Oberon Mall in 2009. The development of retail mega stores, malls, automobile showrooms and hospitality projects, has helped this strip evolve into a major commercial hub and shopping destination in Kochi.With the opening of Lulu international shopping mall, the market demand for Edappally and the surrounding areas has surged.
M. A. Mohammed, Chairman, Oberon Mall, said that MG Road and Broadway, the traditional shopping destinations of the city, are paving way for Edappally. “Major domestic and international retailers have already marked their presence in Palarivattom-Edappally bypass. Leading real estate companies such as Skyline Builders, Asten and Kristal Group have built residential and commercial complexes here,” he said.
Oberon Mall, the first full-fledged mall in the State, offers various brands, entertainment, dining and good infrastructure facilities. “Oberon is one of the most popular hangouts of youth since its inception. With a built-up space of 3.5 lakh sq.ft, it boasts of footfalls between 12,000 and 15,000 on weekdays. The number goes up to 25,000 or 35,000 at weekends.
“Vyttila– Edappally bypass are buzzing with major development activities. As the growth of MG Road and Banerjee Road has slowed for want of moving space and land acquisition for the metro rail, the city is finding new commercial areas for development,” said Antony John, a retailer.
He added that owing to its strategic advantage of having road access to all parts of the state with NH 47 and NH 17, Edappally has become a hot spot for builders and real estate players. A couple of big shopping malls are also coming up along the Vyttila-Edappally bypass.
The Edapally-Kudannur bypass road has evolved into a commercial hub housing various automobile showrooms which has led to land prices firming up along this belt.
It was the arrival of supermarkets and white goods retail chains accelerated the growth of retail sector in Kerala. The youngster’s penchant for luxurious shopping has made a significant change in the sector.
The strategy of selling quality products in India at affordable prices with a strong value proposition jells in Kerala market.
The state economy has been growing at 7.5-8% in the past five years. Growth actually surged to 9.5% in 2011-12 compared with the national average of 6.5%. This has created jobs. Though Kerala still has one of the highest unemployment rates in India, job creation has accelerated in sectors such as IT, ITeS and telecom.
With the arrival of proposed Smart City, Petronet LNG and the expansion of Infopark, the demand for Malls will increase. But according to trade sources, small retail shops have not lost their relevance or market. “
Innovation for survival
The tough competition in the retail sector has forced many leading players to focus more on innovation. “Innovation has become imperative to survive in the field,” said an official of Bismi Home Appliances, Kochi.
Echoing the same view, spokesperson of Kochi-based Pittappillil Agencies, the dealers of more than 1000 electrical and electronics household appliances of 90 national and international brands, said that aggressive marketing and aggressive branding have become inevitable. “As scope for innovation is less, we do aggressive and innovative branding,” he said.
Mall business normally thrives on a catchment area mainly supported by youngsters. Will all footfalls at malls get converted into sale remain a million dollar question.
Malls those redefined retailing in Kochi
Lulu, 1.8 crore people in 10 months!
Lulu Mall, Kochi, has become a household name in Kerala in a short span of time. The foray of Abu Dhabi-headquartered Lulu Group International into the shopping mall business in Kerala has changed the concept of shopping in the state. Around 1.8 crores people visited the mall in 10 months. On an average, around 58,000 people visit the mall on weekdays during non-peak months and it goes up to 90,000 in peak months. The mall’s Facebook page is also a big hit with 2.5 lakh likes in such a short span of time.
Apart from making a wave in Kerala’s retail sector, Lulu Mall, one of the largest malls in India, also has boosted the real estate sector, infrastructure development and tourism.
Organized retailing paid off
Shibu Philips, Business Head, Lulu Mall, said that when Lulu ventured into the retail business in Kerala, the sector was lacking organized retailing. “Lulu as a hypermarket retailer operates 108 stores in 24 countries with a total retail space of 22.5 million plus sq. ft. So we know the advantage of organized retailing well and we have replicated the same formula here – one-stop destination for all family needs. In fact, organized retailing has accelerated our growth,” he said.
One-stop family destination
Lulu Mall spread over 2.5 million sq ft has 22 multi-cuisine restaurants in the Food Court. Lulu Hypermarket spread over an area of about 2,00,000 sq ft is one of the largest hypermarkets in the country. It also offers 12-lane bowling alley, 5D Cinema and South India’s largest ice skating rink of 5000 sq ft. The 9-screen multiplex, the biggest multiplex in Kerala, can accommodate more than 2,000 spectators at a time
The Mall houses 320 international brands related to apparels, fashion accessories, jewellery, gifts, electronic items to Food Court, restaurants and coffee shops.
The parking space can accommodate 3,000 vehicles at a time. The Mall has also deployed adequate resources to monitor and control the flow of vehicles. Sufficient lighting and security have also been installed for the benefit of customers.
Around 1.65 million Keralites work in the Gulf countries and this has prompted the Group to venture into the Kerala market. “Most of the Keralites who have been to the GCC have enjoyed themselves the “Lulu experience”. So, we have planned to launch a Mall that offers the same quality and service in Kerala too,” he said.
Yusuffali, a brand icon
Padma Shree M. A. Yusuffali, Managing Director, Lulu Group, is the driving force behind the success. “Many were skeptical about the viability of such a huge project in a place like Kochi, but it was Mr. Yusuffali’ vision that Lulu should set benchmarks with its maiden project in India and set the ground for next level of development in all related sectors. He is a well-known figure not only in business sphere but also in society through his humanitarian activities.” said Shibu Philips.
Oberon Mall, launched on 2nd March, 2009, with an investment of Rs 100 crore offers 3,50,000 sq ft building spread across in 2 acres of land. The Mall was developed and promoted by the Oberon Group of Companies. Oberon Mall houses some of the most sought after brands in Fashion, Fashion Accessories, Electronics, Lifestyle, etc., along with the finest Food Court, Fine Dining, the first Multiplex in Kerala and the best in Entertainment and Leisure, including an international Spa.
Bay Pride Mall
Bay Pride Mall strategically located at Marine Drive, Kochi, houses 35 various brands. It includes Metro, Brandz, Fila, Price, Music World, Nike, Koutons, Reynolds, John Players, Archies and FabIndia. Established in 2006, the Mall with a total built-up area of 42,000 sq. ft offers maximum visibility and easy access. Food Court located at ground floor draws lot of customers daily.
Bay Pride, designed and developed by ABAD builders, a part of ABAD business group in Kochi, will launch more entertainment area and space for kids games in the coming months.
Spread across 5 lakh sq ft, Centre Square located at MG Road, Kochi, offers wide range of choices in Fashion, Home, Cosmetics, Accessories, Denim and Kids wear categories. For the first time, Centre Square has brought brands like Central, Cinepolis and Amoeba to Kochi. 11 screen multiplex, gaming zone, food court, cafes and restaurants are other major attractions.
Centre Square, a joint venture between Kshitij Venture Capital Fund and the Peevees Group, can accommodate 500 cars and 500 two wheelers at a time.
*This article was originally published in the Feb-March 2014 issue of Shopping Centre News.