Home Retail Vijayender Tulla, Chairman, SVM Entertainment, on Growing Potential of FECs

    Vijayender Tulla, Chairman, SVM Entertainment, on Growing Potential of FECs

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    Commercial arcade game room and larger Family Entertainment Centres (FECs) are gaining wide acceptance across the country. Gone are the days when multiplexes were the only leisure format; the new buzzword in the entertainment and leisure segments are FECs, with malls betting really big on these formats. One of such format is Entertainment. In a tete-atete with Shopping Centre News, Vijayender Tulla ; Chairman of Entertainment talks about the growing potential of FECs and how they have become differentiators for malls.

    What was the thought behind launching SVM Entertainment?

    While pursuing my degree from Northern Illinois University, USA, I was extremely enthused by the variety of entertainment options available abroad. I returned to India with a passion to introduce the same international standards in the field of entertainment in this country. It is my vision to transform India from an era “Before SVM” to one “After SVM”. Ever since our 2009 launch in Hyderabad, SVM has hit the ground running. In less than four years, we have captured consumers in five states and 10 cities, thus becoming the fastest growing entertainment centre in India!

    What were some of the biggest challenges in setting up your FEC zone? How did you tackle those?

    A decade ago, entertainment in India was limited to Bollywood and FEC was still an emerging concept with limited potential. We were trying sailing in new waters when we launched our first centre (50,000 sq.ft. in size) and the success of this venture proved the necessity of new entertainment options in India. However, as we expanded geographically, we came to realise that each city in India is different from another. To tackle this issue, we spent a considerable time understanding the market we were entering and customising our FEC according to the target audience in the city.

    What’s the theme at SVM Entertainment FEC?

    No two SVM centres look alike. Every SVM centre is conceptualised and designed post extensive market research. Unlike other players in the industry, we carefully study the entertainment habits of our target group in each location and design a centre that caters to the taste of our target demographics. This makes us unique and, hence, a successful entertainment centre in that city.

    What are the malls you are associated with?

    Considering our widespread presence, we are associated with , VR Surat (), , Vishaal de Mal, Forum (), Soul Space, Mall of Mysore and Mall of Malhar.

    Space required for your FEC?

    As mentioned before, it is not possible for us to generalise much about our FEC. However, if we take the median of all of FEC, it would be around 8,000 sq.ft. We have some which are much more massive than that and some that are lesser than that. The FEC that we are now opening up in new Forum mall in Hyderabad is a massive 38,000 sq.ft. in size catering to the up-scale corporate sector.

    Do you franchise your model?

    We definitely do. We have spent a considerable time and effort streaming our operations and we want to leverage this moving forward. We have also gained a deep understanding of what works in different markets and these insights will prove to be invaluable to individuals looking to franchise our centres. While the product mix may vary across our centres, the product quality remains the same. This will help our franchisees also to experience the same success we experience in our centres.

    Is there any ticket charges for your FEC?

    Well, if you are talking about entry charges, we do not have any! We charge a certain fee for every time one uses a machine. In order to ensure maximum ease of use, we use sophisticated and far more superior RFID cards that enable our patrons to experience hassle-free tap and play. This significantly reduces patrons’ wait time and also ensures their money is not wasted, as the unused money on the card can be carried forward.

    What is the total investment in a project and how long does it take to break even?

    The investment depends on the size of the centre that you want to develop. The average investment ranges between ` 1–4 cr for an area of 4,000–12,000 sq.ft. From our experience, the return on investment on an average is 3.5 years. However, these numbers are just an estimate.

    What are your marketing and advertising plans? 

    Our business is unconventional, so is the media we use to connect with our patrons. We do a lot of innovative brand engagement activities in the malls, where we don’t just force our brand but create a brand experience. We are also very popular on social media platforms like Facebook where we have close to 40,000 fans. This number shows that we have more fan-following than any of our competitors!

    What are your future plans?

    We want to create landmark family entertainment and recreation hubs with innovative choices. We are already in talks with leading amusement equipment manufacturers from Dubai and UK to introduce first-of-its-kind entertainment concepts in India. We have come a long way from just one centre to 11 centres in four years and we aim to make the count 35 in the next five years.

    Future of FEC culture in India? 

    FEC culture in India is definitely catching up fast. India is projected to be the largest country with the youngest population by 2020, and we do not have enough centres to cater to this growing demand. In the last decade, FEC in a mall in India was considered more of a filler. However, the trend has changed in the recent past. They are now one of the primary drivers of footfalls into the malls making them a necessity for every mall to possess. In addition, the average space allocated to an FEC used to be around 4,000 sq.ft., but as the size of the malls and importance of an FEC increases, the expected space allocated will be around 25,000 sq.ft.

    Can FECs be expanded to Tier-II and -III cities?

    I should think so! Today, SVM is already present in several Tier-II cities, such as Vijayawada and Tier-III cities such as Vizianagaram. Not only are we present in such cities but we also find them to be profitable.

    Who are your target group of customers?

    Since we cater to different target groups in different centres, our horizon of target customers is growing exponentially. SVM is the centre for a corporate’s day-out, a youngster’s hang-out and a family’s fun-time out.

    What was the thought behind launching SVM Entertainment?

    While pursuing my degree from Northern Illinois University, USA, I was extremely enthused by the variety of entertainment options available abroad. I returned to India with a passion to introduce the same international standards in the field of entertainment in this country. It is my vision to transform India from an era “Before SVM” to one “After SVM”. Ever since our 2009 launch in Hyderabad, SVM has hit the ground running. In less than four years, we have captured consumers in five states and 10 cities, thus becoming the fastest growing entertainment centre in India!

    What were some of the biggest challenges in setting up your FEC zone? How did you tackle those?

    A decade ago, entertainment in India was limited to Bollywood and FEC was still an emerging concept with limited potential. We were trying sailing in new waters when we launched our first centre (50,000 sq.ft. in size) and the success of this venture proved the necessity of new entertainment options in India. However, as we expanded geographically, we came to realise that each city in India is different from another. To tackle this issue, we spent a considerable time understanding the market we were entering and customising our FEC according to the target audience in the city.

    What’s the theme at SVM Entertainment FEC?

    No two SVM centres look alike. Every SVM centre is conceptualised and designed post extensive market research. Unlike other players in the industry, we carefully study the entertainment habits of our target group in each location and design a centre that caters to the taste of our target demographics. This makes us unique and, hence, a successful entertainment centre in that city.

    What are the malls you are associated with?

    Considering our widespread presence, we are associated with City Centre Mall, VR Surat (TATA Group), LEPL, Vishaal de Mal, Forum (Prestige Group), Soul Space, Mall of Mysore and Mall of Malhar.

    Space required for your FEC?

    As mentioned before, it is not possible for us to generalise much about our FEC. However, if we take the median of all of FEC, it would be around 8,000 sq.ft. We have some which are much more massive than that and some that are lesser than that. The FEC that we are now opening up in new Forum mall in Hyderabad is a massive 38,000 sq.ft. in size catering to the up-scale corporate sector.

    Do you franchise your model?

    We definitely do. We have spent a considerable time and effort streaming our operations and we want to leverage this moving forward. We have also gained a deep understanding of what works in different markets and these insights will prove to be invaluable to individuals looking to franchise our centres. While the product mix may vary across our centres, the product quality remains the same. This will help our franchisees also to experience the same success we experience in our centres.

    Is there any ticket charges for your FEC?

    Well, if you are talking about entry charges, we do not have any! We charge a certain fee for every time one uses a machine. In order to ensure maximum ease of use, we use sophisticated and far more superior RFID cards that enable our patrons to experience hassle-free tap and play. This significantly reduces patrons’ wait time and also ensures their money is not wasted, as the unused money on the card can be carried forward.

    What is the total investment in a project and how long does it take to break even?

    The investment depends on the size of the centre that you want to develop. The average investment ranges between ` 1–4 cr for an area of 4,000–12,000 sq.ft. From our experience, the return on investment on an average is 3.5 years. However, these numbers are just an estimate.

    What are your marketing and advertising plans?

    Our business is unconventional, so is the media we use to connect with our patrons. We do a lot of innovative brand engagement activities in the malls, where we don’t just force our brand but create a brand experience. We are also very popular on social media platforms like Facebook where we have close to 40,000 fans. This number shows that we have more fan-following than any of our competitors!

    What are your future plans?

    We want to create landmark family entertainment and recreation hubs with innovative choices. We are already in talks with leading amusement equipment manufacturers from Dubai and UK to introduce first-of-its-kind entertainment concepts in India. We have come a long way from just one centre to 11 centres in four years and we aim to make the count 35 in the next five years.

    Future of FEC culture in India?

    FEC culture in India is definitely catching up fast. India is projected to be the largest country with the youngest population by 2020, and we do not have enough centres to cater to this growing demand. In the last decade, FEC in a mall in India was considered more of a filler. However, the trend has changed in the recent past. They are now one of the primary drivers of footfalls into the malls making them a necessity for every mall to possess. In addition, the average space allocated to an FEC used to be around 4,000 sq.ft., but as the size of the malls and importance of an FEC increases, the expected space allocated will be around 25,000 sq.ft.

    Can FECs be expanded to Tier-II and -III cities?

    I should think so! Today, SVM is already present in several Tier-II cities, such as Vijayawada and Tier-III cities such as Vizianagaram. Not only are we present in such cities but we also find them to be profitable.

    Who are your target group of customers?

    Since we cater to different target groups in different centres, our horizon of target customers is growing exponentially. SVM is the centre for a corporate’s day-out, a youngster’s hang-out and a family’s fun-time out.