Create social destinations: ISCF 2008

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‘Create not just a shopping centre, but a social destination,’ agreed participants at the first India Shopping Centre Forum, where shopping centre developers, retailers, brands, consultants, and financial institutions met to form prospective alliances and share ideas for betterment of the industry.

“In the last five years, what we have seen is the mushrooming of shopping centres in the country, where around 1,000 more shopping centres are still in the planning stage. However, there’s a gap between the shopping centres in India as compared to those in the West,” said Pranay Sinha, president and CEO, Select Infrastructure, while speaking at the first session at the forum. Sinha insisted on development of social centres, and formation of a team to work closely with the government so that the industry gets better infrastructure and facilities to develop these social destinations.

Chris LeTourneur, president and CEO, MXD Development Strategists, Canada, said: “Throughout the world, retail concepts have taken decades to evolve. However, in India, new concepts are being accepted faster as they are a balanced blend of concepts from European and Middle-East countries.” LeTourner marked out land availability, complex zoning and taxation structure as major constraints for the shopping centre industry in India.

Based on his experiences, Ramnathan Hariharan, director, Landmark Group, UAE, warned that in India the industry needs to evolve as majority of the malls here do not meet the requirements of the retailers and customers, and they may by forced to shut shop in long run.

Discussing the topic ‘Shopping and the City: Taking India Forward Speedily and Responsibly,’ Suresh Singaravelu, president and head of Infrastructure at Reliance Retail, highlighted the fact that the way GDP in India is rising, the country will require about 300 billion square feet of shopping space. BS Nagesh, MD, Shopper’s Stop, brought forth the point that all the shopping centres today are within the city limits, and the way they are increasing, they will become neighbourhood centres very soon.

Michael Holland, CEO, Assetz Property Group, insisted on creating a shopping centre that is profitable for developers and retailers. “Key issue in India is that of civic infrastructure,” said Holland. Shishir Baijal, MD, Kshitij Investment Advisory Co., shared his views on processes of capital generation for shopping centres, and appreciated the revenue-sharing model. Sushil Vaswani, MD, Lubert Adler India, said that the value being taken by shopping centres today was 25 per cent higher than what it should be and insisted on correction of rental rates.

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