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Malls offer an experiential element to retail which is hard to replicate online: COO Amanora Mall

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is a part of 450-acre special township which started in the year August 18, 2011. The township consists of 12,000 apartments, two schools, one stadium and a shopping centre situated in the eastern suburb of Pune which is the IT and residential hub. Back in 2010, Eastern Pune – spurred by the IT and call centre businesses – had no organized retail but at the same time was populated with a cosmopolitan crowd who had to travel a mile to shop and eat. All these areas are rapidly developing and demanding commercials and entertainment activities.

Malls offer an experiential element to retail which is hard to replicate online: COO Amanora Mall
Spread across 1.2 million sq.feet, Amanora today is a full-day destination for shopping, food, and entertainment, which hold around 175 brands under one roof

With just basic high street retail scattered around the eastern belt the need to have an organized retail environment was essential which later gave birth to Amanora mall. Amanora mall with its unique architectural features emphasising on more indoor and outdoor retail space was designed by New Zealand based architectural company WALKERS.

COO, Amanora Mall, talks about the retail realty scenario of Pune and the stake Amanora has in making it come of the age. Spread across 1.2 million sq.feet, Amanora today is a full-day destination for shopping, food, and entertainment, which hold around 175 brands under one roof.

How has the retail real estate market coming up Pune over the last few years, according to you?

Pune has been a very bullish market with retail growing at a fast phase. It is an attractive corporate location due to the presence of quality talent pool, education base, availability of quality real estate and economic cost of living. Pune’s economic growth is predominantly driven by IT/ ITe S industry. With IT and BPO markets seeing a tremendous growth, the retail market has coped up pretty well with established pan India and international retailer brands having set their footprint firmly in the city. More and more malls have mushroomed within a span of five years in a 5 million populated city.

What is the total built-up area and gross leasable area of the mall? What is the occupancy rate of the mall?

Our built-up area is 1.2 million sq.ft. of the mall with a 10.65 lakh sq.ft. of gross leasable area. The occupancy of the mall is 80 per cent so far.

Tell us about the location of the mall and your core catchment?

Amanora Mall is situated in the eastern suburbs of Pune which is a major IT and residential hub. The mall is 14 km away from Pune railway station and 8 km from the airport. Amanora Township is 465 acres with over 10,000 residents occupying about 4,000 flats at this month. There are another 2,500 flats being handed over the next 6 months and the total number is aimed at 10,000-12,000 flats over a period of five years.

The immediate catchment has housing societies by very prominent builders of Pune with apartment costs ranging upwards of Rs 60-70 lakh and going up to crore. Magarpatta City which is right opposite Amanora is a 430-acres township, it houses 40,000 residents and also hosts 60,000 professionals who work at the Magarpatta Cyber city IT Park within the Magarpatta complex. (Exl Services, Amdocs, Cognizant Technology Solutions (CTS), John Deere, SAP, Accenture, AVAYA, Inautix, Crest, MarketsandMarkets, Teradata, Refl exis, ZS Associates, Principal Financial Group, Red Hat, Xento, Bentley and more)

What is the USP and differentiating factor of Amanora mall?

The architectural design is the USP of the mall with its indoor and outdoor shopping experience. The massive musical fountain synchronized with sound and lights is one of its kind inside any shopping centre making it a place for people to gather during evenings to witness the fountain and many other musical events.

What’s the retail mix of Amanora mall like?

Fashion, entertainment and food constitute the major retail mix. The mall houses some of the best international brands such as H&M, Decathlon, Vero Moda, Jack & Jones, ONLY, and Harley Davidson to name a few. There is 3 lakh sq.ft. of commercial offices above the mall.

Who are the anchors and mini anchors in your mall? Who are the key vanilla retailers?

Our anchor stores are: Central, Inox, and Big Bazaar.

Our mini anchors are: H&M, Marks & Spencer, Decathlon, Crossword, Reliance Digital, Reliance Trends and the food court.

The key vanilla stores in the mall are: Vero Moda, Only, Jack & Jones, UCB, The Body Shop, Harley Davidson, Hidesign, RTW, Sunglass Hut, Allen Solly, Van Heusen, Louis Phillipe, Puma, Nike, and Skechers to name a few.

Are there any interesting new or upcoming retail tenants?

We are roping in some very interesting fashion brands, but it’s a bit too early to announce the names.

What kind of revenue model do you share with your tenants?

We work on MG or fixed rent and also a combination of revenue share and MG.

What kind of a setup do you have for regional or local retailers? As a mall developer, how do you propose to promote these indigenous brands?

Pune has a very strong base on local brands just like any other city. Depending on the brand and category they are positioned accordingly. We do support them initially with brandings space within the mall but this is strictly for a specific period.

What marketing/promotional initiatives have you taken up recently? How do they help the mall and its retail tenants?

We recently launched our food court which is around 25,000 sq.ft., which holds around 12 food operators. To promote the food court, we recently created a property called ‘The Great Puneriee Cook off Season 1’. This was a cooking completion held at the mall food court for the public. Celebrity Chef Sahilender Kakade was the judge for the event. We received a great response from the consumers as well as from our food court operators.

While retailers continue to invest in e-commerce, they still understand the value of physical stores and that bridging the in-store and online experience is a serious driver of business. Do you think shopping centres can bridge this divide with Omnichannel strategies?

Shopping centres are undergoing a major evolution at the moment. Yes, e-commerce offers a sense of ease when it comes to shopping. However, malls offer an experiential element to retail which is hard to replicate in the digital world. There is such a massive amount of content dumped on the customers with online offers, discounts, festive sales that the customer ends up spending a considerable time just sifting through the information in search of the desired product. You may have noticed several prominent e-commerce brands moving to a retail place to develop a physical connect with the customer, something which will never lose its importance. Omnichannel strategies are therefore of extreme importance and over time, both (retail and e-tail) will learn to co-exist as they are dependent on each other.

What are your Omnichannel strategies?

We are setting out on a digital transformation program, where we want to incentivise our loyal customers with benefits (offers, deals) of available brands within the mall. We have recently launched our Loyalty Program which comes with an app, microsite and the works which simply rewards people for shopping with us.

Over time, we will expand the scope to include product reservations, browsing of product catalogues and offering interest/ previous shopping history based deals or discounts. There is a massive amount of work that needs to go in and this will be possible hand in hand with our retail partners.