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    Madurai to get its first mall


    In a clear signal of growing urbanisation in the state, Madurai is all set to get its first mall. It will be the second mall in Tamil Nadu outside Chennai, the other being Brookfields Plaza in Coimbatore.

    Located near Pandian Hotel, an old landmark in the temple city, Vishaal Mall will have Reliance Trends (along with Footprint) as its anchor store. The other retailers who have signed on for space include the ’s value retail format Max, denim brands Lee and and footwear brand Woodlands. Inox is the multiplex partner of the mall, and is likely to open in September . At 2 lakh sqft, it’s much smaller than the 15 lakh sqft mall in Chennai (the retail space in EA is 9 lakh sqft) or the 4.5 lakh sqft space of Brookfields.

    The mall hopes to get footfalls not just from families in the city, but also the sizeable student population from nearby institutions like the American College and the Lady Doak College . "Madurai is a huge shopping destination for the southern districts . Through this mall, we wanted to open up the market to brands that would like to be part of this market, but have not been able to open yet," says R Ilankovan, chairman of Vishaal Promoters. "The youth of Madurai always complain about having to travel to Chennai or Bangalore to experience a mall and multiplex. Now they can enjoy it in their own city."

    The retail area of Madurai has mushroomed around the Meenakshi Temple, the tourist hub of the city. Over the years though, retail hubs have spread across the city in other residential areas .

    "Tier I and II cities form a significant part of our growth , given the way the demographic in these markets has evolved. After Chennai and Coimbatore, Madurai is next most important market in Tamil Nadu . Moving there was a natural choice," says , president-CEO (), . "Madurai is an important feeder market to places like Virudhnagar, Nagercoil and Tirunelveli."

    Vishaal Mall has set aside 10,000 sqft for a food court that will feature Marry Brown and among others. There will also be 10,000 sqft for fine dining and another 10,000 sqft for gaming and entertainment. The mall, which already has 60% occupancy , currently features neither a departmental store nor a supermarket .

    Vishaal Promoters has invested Rs 60 crore in the project (including land cost).

    Rentals attractive for retailers

    With a population of over 30 lakh, Madurai is among the biggest cities in the state. "Given that cities like Rajkot, Bhopal and Indore have malls, it’s no surprise that Madurai has got one too. The patrons of the mall will be children of traders in the city who are educated and empowered and see themselves as being on par with their peers in the metros," says , a brand and retail consultant. "But most malls are deep gestation projects, so the promoters should stay invested for the long run to see it go from a destination to a profitable business."

    Bijoor suggests that the mall also experiment with formats the city hasn’t seen before , for example a pub. "It would also do well to add a supermarket, if not a hypermarket ," he says.

    "At rentals like Rs 100 per sqft on the ground floor and Rs 50 per sqft on the other floors, the mall is an attractive option for retail outlets looking to enter the Madurai market," says Rajesh Babu, chief consultant of RECS Group, which is working with Vishaal Promoters in marketing this project .

    Source : Times of India