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    Will Central alter Indore’s retail character?

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    No matter what the size of the city or its population, ’s sees opportunity just about anywhere. With several formats of retail operational under the big banner of , Biyani has been shaping the retail landscape of India in the way he wants his customers to shop. Wherever he goes, hundreds of retailers follow.

    After successfully positioning Central as a seamless mall in six major cities that include Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Vadodara and Gurgaon, Future Group forayed into Indore in Madhya Pradesh recently. In the first two days of its operation, Central Indore counted a staggering 80 thousand footfalls, thanks to some 500 fashion brands including , , Excalibur, , Levi’s, Liberty, Metro, , Peter England, Provouge, Titan, Woodland and Zodiac. Several popular formats of Future Group including Food Bazaar, Ethnicity, eZone, HomeTown and F123 are also major occupiers of this 2.25 lakh square feet property.

    With this launch, it is expected that another phase of retail development is going to unleash in the city, and Indore Central will play a key role along with operational malls such as Treasure Island at MG Road, Mangal City at Vijay Nagar area and MR10 — another mall from EWDPL — which is set to be operational by end 2010.

    The catchment

    Indore, the commercial capital of the ‘heart of India’ Madhya Pradesh, is one of the busiest and most advanced business hubs in India. Spread over an area of 160.45 square kilometres, the city is one of the fastest growing cities in India. Some of the prominent areas of the city are Palasia, Rajwada, Race Course Road, Jawahar Marg, South Tukoganj, Saket, Tilak Nagar, Bangali Colony, Vajay Nagar, Mahalakshmi Nagar, Shalimar Township and others.

    As a retail destination, Indore has enough potential to offer. Along with apparel and FMCG, food and entertainment retail too are growing rapidly. Among QSR chains, Barista and Pizza Hut are present, while entertainment retailers and are also operational. Very soon, Inox will also open a theatre at Indore Central. While Pizza Hut claims that its Indore outlet is one of its fastest growing and top performing units in terms of sales figures, finds the city fertile and has planned to add a nine-screen multiplex to an existing four-screen cinema operational in Mangal City. The nine-screen multiplex, which is scheduled to open in MR10 mall by the end of 2010, is going to be the largest multiplex in Madhya Pradesh.

    Speaking about the catchments of Indore, Tushar Dhingra, COO, Big Cinemas, stated, “Indore, being the epicenter of Madhya Pradesh, attracts a lot of traffic from nearby towns to its malls and cinemas.”

    , head-marketing, Pizza Hut, said, “Indore is one of the prominent locations in Madhya Pradesh. About 50 per cent of our customers are young people and also families. The trend is pretty much similar to the customer profile we draw across the country.”

    Rajesh Seth, vice president – Central and , mentioned that Indore is more like Mumbai in character. “People in Indore are fashion conscious. They love to shop, eat and celebrate and that’s how we as a brand position ourselves.” Elaborating further, he stated that the city has a large student community and while designing the mall, Central has given importance to their expectations. “Indore is a city where literacy is very high and it’s an educational hub. So there is a significant student population and we have created lots of avenues to engage with the segment. We have lots of options in terms of brands that we offer. We have a dedicated space with wi-fi connectivity for young customers.”

    Population

    Indore’s total population in 2008 was reported to be 18,00,507 (ICMR, estimation on the basis of Census, 2001) with a growth rate of 2.89 per cent. The total literacy rate in the city is reported to be 75 per cent.

    Consumers

    The city is divided into 75 municipality wards (Municipality of Indore, 2004), and these wards accommodate approximately 15,60,062 people (ICMR Projection, 2008 based on Census of India, 2001). The total population of the city according to the SEC A and B classifications is reported to be 603,000. About 44.4 per cent of the total population of the city belongs to SEC A and B categories. The percentage distribution of population belonging to SEC A and B is:

    SEC A1: 13.4 per cent

    SEC A2: 9.1 per cent

    SEC B1: 11.4 per cent

    SEC B2: 10.5 per cent

    The population distribution of SEC A and B has been estimated on the basis of NRS data and this has been estimated by taking into account the proportionate distribution of SEC A and B population in the city.

    The ICMR survey reports that about 95 per cent of the households belonging to SEC A and B have colour television sets while 94 per cent of the households have a two wheeler. The average monthly household expenditure is estimated to be Rs 19,897. ICMR estimates from responses by respondents that these consumers will shift their total expenditure by about 8.4 per cent to the new mall as and when it opens. On the other hand, another 73.4 per cent of the households are likely to shop from both the existing and upcoming malls. The transfer of wallet share is estimated to be around Rs 21 crore.

    Promises

    Elaborating the expectation of Central from Indore market, Seth stated, “Central is never positioned as a shopping destination. It is more of a community space. Here people are not expected to come to buy a shirt or a trouser, rather they are expected to come with family and friends to shop, eat and celebrate.”

    He further stated that while designing Central as a brand for Indore, the company studied the nuances of the city to understand the lifestyle of its inhabitants in order to deliver appropriate offers, and not impose alien trends on to them. He said that the city has enough of a student community and while designing the mall, they have given importance to their expectations and created dedicated zones for youngsters. Besides housing lots of cafes, Indore Central also organises seminars regarding career options and related aspects every Saturday to cater to this segment.

    Seth pointed out that most of the women in the city are home makers with enough disposable cash to spend. So to engage them, Indore Central has created a clutch of women-specific programmes. As part of the plan, while every Saturday is a ‘youngsters’ day out’, every Wednesday is a ‘women’s day out’ in Indore Central.

    “On one hand the women in Indore have a lot of money, while on the other they also have enough free time. So we have created a lot of avenues to engage them and housed a massive collection of ethnic wear in the mall. We have also created a flea market with local artisans to showcase their products; this generates a lot of interest and curiosity among the ladies. HomeTown is also organising events to offer home making tips. We will shortly have live cooking demonstrations as well at Indore Central,” he adds.

    Retail experience

    Elaborating on the retail experience at Indore and the prospect the brand finds for further growth in the city, Pizza Hut’s Anup Jain stated, “We opened an outlet in Treasure Island on MG Road about three years ago and it has been performing extremely well. Over 80 per cent of our revenues come from direct business, besides from birthdays and other parties at the outlet.”

    , MD, Woodland, also finds the city full of potential for his brand, which currently has four stores in Indore.

    Sharing his retail experience in the city, Dhingra said, “Indore is a market in which consumers are price sensitive and fairly discerning about the prices and value equations that they want. However, people here are also very open to new ideas and experimental in nature.”

    Is the competition getting tougher?

    With Indore Central operational, it has been suggested that existing malls including Treasure Island and Mangal City may find it difficult to retain their customers, but the retailers state that there is no fear or unrest among them. “Competition is going to be very healthy in any case. It is not an overbuilt situation and so there is nothing to be worried about. Anybody who can touch the consumer effectively will grab the market share,” Dhingra concluded.

    Sarimul Islam Choudhury