Growel’s 101 aspires to be a super-regional centre. In a one-on one interview, Vikas Shetty, Mall Head, says that the shopping is on its way to becoming a preferred,one-stop destination for retail, F&B and entertainment of the catchment it caters to. Excerpts from the exclusive chat…
Seven years is a long time for a shopping mall to sustain itself successfully in the Indian retail scenario. Tell us about your journey so far.
Although we launched full-fledged mall operations only in the year 2010, we were operational with a hypermarket and a multiplex from the year 2005-06. Due to this we had already developed a connect with our consumers and catchment from way before we were a full-time mall.
We are India’s first theme based mall. Ours is a Venetian theme designed by Kaplan McLaughlin Diaz and Form 4. Growel’s 101 skillfully integrates vertical contours to provide a nostalgic journey that is both passage and experience. The design revolves around a typical neo-classical architecture with the use of many arches, colonnades, stoned flooring and extensive use of internal and façade lighting to enhance the moods within the mall and to give visitors a European feel. Unlike present day malls in India, our designs are greatly influenced by internal and external architecture.
Due to open spaces and unique architecture that we offer, it was easy for us to develop a connect with the catchment as customers crave for such offerings in a city like Mumbai and no other mall in our catchment offers this.
Hence, we were considered a neighbourhood mall with options available.
YEAR 2010: At that time, the shopping mall industry in Mumbai was new and the brand mix was designed keeping in mind the tastes, adaptability and spending power of the catchment. We had brands catering to the masses as well as to some of the premium segment. The area that we catered area to was dominated by a particular community, and so we laid emphasis on a strong F&B mix as well.
All our events and marketing campaigns were also targeted towards neighbouring communities and catchment areas. All these factors helped us establish ourselves firmly in the growing organised retail sector.
YEAR 2015: We decided to churn our brands and uplift the offerings, which in turn helped us move up the ladder.
THE REASON FOR THIS STRATEGIC CALL: The consumer taste of buying, spending power, awareness of the brands has changed over time. The market has also changed considerably and developed. Customers now have deep knowledge of trends, offerings and understand the value of their purchases. It is the need of the hour for shopping malls to adapt as per the changing demands of the market. Over the years, some retail brands have sustained, some flourished but many have also fizzled out.
Hence, churning and re-churning is a constant process which needs to be done over a period of time to introduce newness in any mall, keeping in mind the varying interests of the consumer. This offers a gateway to new brands which are introduced in the market and also shows old, nonperforming brands the way out.
What is your vision? What do you aspire to be perceived as by your stakeholders?
Earlier we were considered as a neighbourhood mall. With the addition of better anchor tenants and improved tenant mix the perception of Growel’s 101 has changed from that of a neighbourhood mall to a regional centre. We also aspire to be the most preferred one-stop destination of our catchment for retail, F&B and entertainment.
Elaborate on your process of rejuvenation.
UP-GRADATION IN TENANT MIX: Initially we had mass anchor brands, some premium vanilla, international and local F&B brands. We have now introduced more premium anchors including Central and Croma and international F&B brands like Starbucks, Burger King and Sbarro plus a better multiplex player- PVR in terms of experience. We have also strengthened our unique offering mix by addition of brands like Chaayos, Fabindia, Mad Over Donuts, Wok Express and many others still in the pipeline.
INCREASE IN LEASING OCCUPANCY: We being a small sized mall, a lot of shuffling and re-sizing of the existing brands was required to accommodate new ones. This also gave the existing brands an opportunity to make optimum use of their space in turn improving the profits.
CHANGE IN PERCEPTION: This has happened over the years. Initially we had started off with a hypermarket and a multiplex. We were more recognised as a mall catering to only specific needs of the catchment. With the launch and development of Phase II of our mall, we are now perceived as a regional centre and with the future development plans we aspire to be a super-regional centre.
RESULTS SO FAR: The results so far have been quite overwhelming for us. Despite the on-going metro work in the vicinity hampering the catchment market, we were able to clock our highest footfalls twice till date, sales numbers and trading density in the current financial year. We have been growing by 31 percent YoY in terms of footfalls and 30 percent YoY in terms of overall retail sales. Our tenants are promoting with improved trading densities and higher EBITDA.
IMMEDIATE DEVELOPMENTS: To start with, we are making provisions for 25 percent more GLA to add to our brand mix. At this moment I shall not be able to disclose our future plans; but if they work out as per our vision then we would be one of a kind mall towards this side of the city.
Where do you see your mall positioned in the next 3 years?
I see Growel’s 101 rise from a regional shopping centre to a super-regional one with more premium brands and a wider range of brand mix.