Pushpa Bector is Executive Vice President and Head – DLF Premium Malls, which comprises of five properties across Delhi NCR and Chandigarh namely, DLF Mall of India, India’s first and largest destination mall, DLF Promenade, DLF Place, DLF CyberHub, India’s first integrated F&B and Entertainment destination and DLF CityCentre, Chandigarh and new upcoming projects.
She is currently responsible for providing executive leadership and management of DLF Premium Malls, where she heads the business units including marketing, leasing, finance and operations.
She brings along an extensive experience of over two decades and has been a renowned name in the retail and mall business domain. During her previous role as the Vice President and Mall Head of DLF Promenade (for three years), she took charge of the mall from its inception to making it a successful and admired fashion destination by designing creative marketing campaigns, and establishing cohesive operations and processes.
In the early years of her association with DLF, she also headed the Food and Beverage Division. The concept of food courts initiated by her was a successful move making her a renowned name in the Food and Beverage segment in the country. Adding to her credit, she has been instrumental in establishing over six food courts and handling the leasing processes of the retail spaces in the mall business segment of DLF Utilities.
Prior to DLF, she was the CEO of Funky Orbits and other retail projects under Apollo International Ltd. However, she started her career with the Oberoi Group of Hotels. An OCLD graduate from Oberois’, she has worked in all marquee properties of Oberois’ at the start of her career. Later she worked at Jubilant FoodWorks Ltd. as Marketing Head for Domino’s pizza.
She has garnered formidable business start up and launch experience over the years and has a keen business and relationship sense.
In an exclusive interview with Indiaretailing Bureau, Pushpa Bector talks about the future of DLF Promenade, the importance of location strategy, FECs and a lot more.
What is your vision for DLF Promenade?
Our vision for DLF Promenade is simple – to make it the best destination for fashion, food and fun.
How would you describe the journey for DLF Promenade with regard to the vision with which you began the property? Has the property lived up to your expectations?
Post the launch, DLF Promenade was positioned as a fashion forward mall and after eight years the mall has exceeded all our expectations. We introduced many international and homegrown fashion and lifestyle brands along with new F&B brands.
With its strong anchors like Zara, Marks & Spencer, Forever 21, Sephora, PVR ICON Cinemas and the Eat Food Lounge, DLF Promenade completes the mall experience for all its patrons. With Delhi’s only 7-screen PVR ICON Cinemas, DLF Promenade also enjoys the loyalty of cinema goers in the city.
In addition to its fashion and beauty portfolio, the mall offers a strong mix of F&B brands. Sitting in DLF Promenade are all cuisines; be it the home-grown iconic food chain – The Big Chill, the South-African giant – Nando’s, the American all-day diner – TGIF, home-grown pan-Asian chain – Mamagoto, Riyaaz Amlani’s casual diners – Smoke House Deli and Mocha Art House and Chef Marut Sikka’s Indian and continental offering – Kainoosh and Keya.
DLF Promenade further strengthened its positioning as a fashion forward mall by introducing a strong spectrum of bridge to luxury brands like Juicy Couture, Chanel Beauty, Hunkemoller, BCBGeneration among others like Call it Spring, DC shoes and Kama Ayurveda.
In the recent past, the mall has won many accolades, which include Retailer of the Year (Mall) at the Asia Retail Congress 2016-17, Best Shopping Mall of the Year – National at Indian Retail Awards 2016-17, Best In-House Magazine at the Global Marketing Excellence Awards and the Most Admired Shopping Centre of the Year: Best per sq.ft. sales at IMAGES Shopping Centre Awards 2016 among others and it has also recently won the Best Shopping mall of the year North 2017 by Franchise India- 2017.
Since you will now be managing 5 properties, how will you ensure that each property maintains its uniqueness?
Each of these properties stand for their own respective strengths and personalities which will not be tampered. Synergy is to make larger events which are more relevant to the city or area.
What is your vision/ strategy moving forward for the Premium segment?
We are in the business of building communities and enriching the quality of the communities by enhancing shopping, dining and entertainment.
Which are the new brands which you are planning to bring to each of these malls?
At DLF Promenade Mall our newest edition has been Namak Mandi. Clinique along with Cover Story which is another women only fashion apparel brand which will be opening shortly. Joe Shoes is another shoe brand which will also be opening soon at the mall.
At DLF Saket, Laidback Café and Barceloes will be opening soon.
At Mall of India Scotch and Soda, Big Chill, Irish House are slated to be the new add ons for this year.
At CyberHub, we plan to add I-Hop and the famous Bombakery.
In Chandiargh’s City Center Mall, Nautica a fashion apparel brand will open soon.
In the next five years, will we see the same popular anchor brands like Zara, Forever 21 et al. or do you plan to give space to more home-grown brands?
We always prefer to have a good mix of both international and home-grown brands to cater to our clientele and we have seen the home grown brands like Desi Pop, Da Milano, Fab India, Chumbak, Haldiram, Chayoos, Kama Ayurveda, Shingora have been doing extremely well at the mall.
What is the importance of food courts in new age malls? Tell us about your food court and the F&B brands in the malls that you take care of.
People enjoy dining out with family and friends. The trend is very contemporary and hence malls invest in a considerable space for the F&B segment.
DLF Promenade’s Eat Food Lounge boasts a seating capacity of 400 people. There are eleven stalls in the Eat Food Lounge, which include Brown Sugar, Domino’s Pizza, McDonald’s, Haldiram’s, Keventers, King’s Kulfi, Ooh La La, Shree Rathnam, Tikka Town, Kylin and Biryani Blues.
There are many restaurants that include a mix of fine-dining and casual dining experience. We have TGI Friday, Johnny Rockets, Big Chill, Nandos, Namak Mandi, Smoke House Deli, Keya, Kainoosh, Mamagoto, Café Delhi Heights and Mocha Arthouse. Apart from these, there are cafes like Chaayos, The Beer Cafe, Mad Over Doughnuts, L’Opera, Starbucks, Krispy Kreme, Chokola, Gelato Vinto, 4700BC Popcorn and Auntie Anne’s.
The one game changer in this space of food and entertainment has undoubtedly been DLF Cyber Hub. Listed as the No. 1 thing to do in Gurugram according to Trip Advisor; DLF Cyber Hub has changed the way food and entertainment is consumed. The entire concept of an esplanade format was new to India and saw great success in DLF Cyber Hub with something for everybody approach. The space is now being doubled and retains its open 2-3 storey format to cut the clutter of the multi-rises surrounding it. In an almost chameleon like avatar, one can notice the transformation of the destination from day to night and from weekdays to weekends.
Similarly, Mall of India is not only catering to the shopaholics but also to the discerning food lovers and individuals looking for entertainment that gives them a rush of adrenaline.
Let’s talk about the FEC zone in the mall. Why, according to you, are FEC zones becoming an integral part of modern malls?
Today, FEC zones are the USP of malls. Families like to be entertained together. The FEC zones in a mall offer a convenient place for working parents to spend time together where they can choose from several activities in just one location. These zones bond families and friends together.
It is what separates the experience of solitary online shopping and spending a whole day at the mall where there are so many things for patrons to do. For instance, at DLF Promenade, there is Kiddyland where children can happily spend the day and even host birthday parties, Eat Food Lounge has a seating capacity for 400 people, PVR ICON Cinemas with 7 screens is the perfect place to watch new movies. Families like to be together when they go to see movies, eat-out and shop.
DLF MOI has allocated 40 per cent for food and entertainment which is unprecedented move in the retail real estate industry. We have created an interesting line up for this segment like Smaaash, Ski India (indoor snow gaming park), Funcity (first kids theme auditorium in India) and EAT Food Lounge – food court with over 1,000 seating capacity, which will offer 20 local and global cuisines to cater to everybody’s palate. These are the reasons that make the whole of Delhi NCR our catchment area.
SMAAASH at Cyber Hub presents an unmatched range of games that offer a superlative experience, and combines the best of sports, music and dining into a highly immersive, interactive, innovative and involved entertainment experience.
Technology holds great sway in the way a mall is shaped today. What sort of technologies have you embraced and leveraged in all the three malls?
We always embrace cutting-edge technology be it in operations, customer service or tenant service.
DLF Mall of India is the first mall to adopt the use of technology to revolutionise the retail real estate space in India with video walls and digital kiosks:
– Introduction of online BTL Booking portal: DLF MOI’s path-breaking initiative where a brand can book, block, auction, receive invoices, make online payments and acquire gates passes for BTL activations and hiring space.
– Digital Directories that have been designed keeping international best practices in mind to ease the navigation for the customers.
In DLF Promenade we introduced WiFi at the mall and post-demonetization we completely digitized the food courts by introducing PayTM for easy payment.
Does the success of a mall depends on its location strategy? Please elaborate.
Location remains the key but product mix makes the property stand apart and we go for a blend of the two. There are other factors that determine where a mall will be set up which will directly influence the success of the mall. These factors include demographics, the population’s spending propensity, the economic development of the area and the surrounding infrastructure.
The accessibility of the mall’s location to customers is also an important factor that we look at when we look at infrastructure. If people will have to spend more time commuting to the mall compared to the time they would like to spend at the mall, people would naturally choose not to visit that mall.
What does the future of retail holds for the malls of tomorrow?
I believe there is a very promising future for retail and malls. Malls are rapidly evolving and changing according to the needs of the market and consumer dynamics. Malls are the place to go for the entertainment and experience value. People plan a whole day at the mall, whether they go with family, friends and even hold business lunches. Multiplexes also add a great deal to footfalls.
The successful mall embraces the younger consumer aspirations through fast-moving and evolving experiences and builds long-term relationships not only with tenants and partners but also with customer loyalty.
What are you doing to enhance Omnichannel experience for consumers?
We are aware of the strength of Omnichannel experience for the clients and consumers and we are working towards achieving this for all our malls.