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    Prospering in Punjab

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    Come this September, Alpha G:Corp’s massive mixed use project AlphaOne will be all set to redefine retail and leisure for India’s most prosperous state with the unveiling of the property in the Golden Temple city of Amritsar. While the key anchors of the 25 acre mall on GT Road will be , , and Time Zone, the list of vanilla stores includes , United Colors of Benetton, , Lee, Allen Solly, Provogue, Wrangler, , , Reebok, Puma and Just Lucky, among others.

    So, is it the opening of a new mall that is driving retailer traffic to Amritsar, or did growing consumer demand necessitate the opening of AlphaOne? It’s the proverbial chicken-and-egg question, isn’t it?

    Most retailers and market watchers believe it is clearly the second trend that is pulling modern retail to Amritsar. Among other retailers, HyperCity too will be marking its entry into North India with the AlphaOne opening.

    Prodipta Sen, VP, marketing & corporate affairs, Alpha G: Corp says, “Amritsar as a destination, is famous for the Golden Temple. However, retail here remains largely unorganised. This is a primary reason for a retailer to establish a position here. The other attractions for the retailer are the availability of disposable income, the preference for aspirational lifestyle with enhanced brand consciousness among consumers.”

    “The impact of the downturn has had little impact on smaller towns and cities in India. There is a demand for lifestyle products even in small towns despite (commonly held)apprehensions that there are no takers for such products. As the standard of living elevates in these towns and cities, the premium market continues to swell. Entertainment and F&B are likely to be great scorers besides branded apparel and accessories. Jewellery and accessories are also there to stay,” says Ananta Raghuvanshi, chief executive – retail (India) & residential channel sales (Delhi NCR), Emaar MGF Land.

    On the presence of Fun Cinemas in the property as an anchor, Atul Goel, CMD, Fun Cinemas says, “Punjab is a very progressive state and the demographics of the state are very favourable in terms of the spending power.”

    “So far as Amritsar is concerned, it is a prosperous city. Also, don’t forget, an international airport is slated to come up here shortly. Besides, AlphaOne is a good development to be a part of,” he adds.

    Consumers in Amritsar, as per the Alpha G Corp

    Businessmen/Traders/Rich and Affluent Farmers – 39 pc

    Self-Employed Professionals (Doctors, Architects, et al) – 16 pc

    Public Sector/Government Service – 10 pc

    Employees in Private Companies – 23 pc

    Floating Population (Tourists/MNC employees) – 12 pc

    “Amritsar is a virgin market for organised retail and entertainment. Against this background, AlphaOne is designed with a large, open atrium and would comprise a shopping mall within which there would be a hypermarket, department stores, restaurants and special dining, sprawling food courts, family entertainment, a 5-screen multiplex with a gold class and space for cultural activities of global standards,” adds Sen.

    Meanwhile, being a tier II city, it is interesting to explore the formats of retail that are expected to perform especially well in Amritsar. “Retail formats that should take off exceedingly well in Amritsar would be retail food, entertainment, clothing and jewellery, in that order,” says Sen. “And this will be driven primarily by the vibrant, sociable, friendly and family-oriented psyhographics of the city. Considering this fact, AlphaOne has taken measures to address consumers through various pro-active programs in partnership with occupiers.”

    “As a multiplex operator, it is quite important for us to be present in Amritsar, especially since we have received very good response from Chandigarh and other cities of Punjab. Amritsar we feel is a ‘must-do’ for us,” adds Goel.

    Referring to Punjab’s much acknowledged prosperity , Raghuvanshi adds, “Cities in Punjab have a huge floating population, which includes rural landlords, NRIs etc. Punjab cities and towns consist of a sizeable population of households with high disposable incomes. This also includes the adjacent towns and villages populated by rich farmers and other prosperous households. The distances are shorter as compared to the metros and hence, provide better connectivity to the mall goers. Most of these cities have a popular high street/central business district (CBD) and a wholesale market, which caters to consumers’ very basic needs. Traditionally, metros have remained a destination for shopping for high aspiration residents of small towns.”

    According to Sen, the structure of consumers in Amritsar can be defined in three different segments. “The primary segment comprises entrepreneurs and prosperous farmers in the average age bracket of 32 years. The decision maker in this segment is normally the male. In the secondary segment, consumers — consisting of the service class as well as traders — would be of an average age of 35 with an average monthly spend of about Rs 5,000. Finally, the third consumer category would consist of tourists, both national and international, and the average spend would be between Rs. 4,500 and Rs 6,000.”

    The catchment of prime residential areas in the city includes Rajinder Nagar, Ishwar Nagar, Basant Avenue, New Pratap Avenue, Sant Avenue, Dashmesh Avenue, Bharat Nagar, Friends Colony, New Sant Nagar, Khalsa Nagar, Golden Avenue and upcoming residential areas such as the new Amritsar area and proposed SEZ area. Neighbouring prosperous agricultural towns around Amritsar include Jandiala, Dheriwala, Beas, Taran-Taaran, Raiya, Batala, Gurdaspur, Kapurthala, Firozpur, Hoshiarpur and Jallandhar.

    — Shailesh Shah and Bhavya Misra