Creating a vibrant Ambience

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Real estate development company Ambience Limited has been setting new standards for over two decades. The group entered retail with Ambience Mall, Gurgaon in 2007 and has now completed another mall in Vasant Kunj, Delhi. In an exclusive interaction with IMAGES Retail, Ramesh Shah, strategic advisor, Ambience Group, and Deepti Goel, head – mall strategy and marketing, Ambience Mall, share the USP of their malls.

Q. Your malls in Gurgaon and Vasant Kunj are competing with other malls in the vicinity. How do you manage to capture the audience?
Ramesh Shah: The consumer has to affiliate with mall development. Our competition is with ourselves; we have to constantly raise the bar and strive to better ourself.

Success of a mall is measured not just by rental revenues, but also by other factors such as footfalls and conversions, the ticket size, the coherence and longevity of the mall mix, the profile of the anchor tenants and the customer profile.

It is important for a mall to be aligned with the catchment.

Q. Many malls in the country are vying for the same set of brands. What should be the retail proposition to differentiate oneself from the competition?
Shah: The mall space should be an extension of the patron’s personality. If one can accomplish this, the mall will automatically be differentiated. In fact, the mall is a social centre, and to think of it as a mere shopping arcade is equal to administering slow poison to the mall.

Q. Ambience Malls boast of an innovative concept coupled with interesting brands. How did you envision the mix?
Deepti Goel: Retail is a very specialised business. We have to invent and reinvent exactly at the pace at which our patrons do. The analysis of the catchment area, the understanding of consumers, their aspirations, needs and socio-economic behaviour lead to the formation of the ‘mall character’, which dictates the mix of the mall.

Q. Can you highlight the retail tenant mix of your malls? Has retail zoning been employed at the malls?
Goel: The zoning is well orchestrated for customer circulation with the right facilities at the right place. The mall mix is profiled in a manner so that it becomes a preferred destination for customers. The strength of Ambience Malls lies in their ability to provide a complete experience in terms of shopping, dining and entertainment with a wellthought-out tenant mix. Ambience Mall is a place that allows patrons to splurge with a very well-thoughtout tenant mix and a shopping environment detailed to exceed the customer expectations. The malls have gone the extra mile to bring in the finest culinary sensations, strategic entertainment areas, making it a onestop destination.

Q. What is the USP of Ambience malls? How would you differentiate between the two malls?
Goel: Ambience Mall, Gurgaon was conceptualised as a secondgeneration mall and is positioned as a ‘destination mall’. We at Ambience have always believed that shopping malls are social centres and we, therefore, need a deeper understanding of the social science aspect.

The closer we study our catchment, the easier it becomes for us to create a centre for their specific needs and aspirations. We find answers to all questions of our shopping malls within our social behavioural pattern and we need to go no further than our basic human element. We then take support of technology and build a shopping mall.

Ambience Mall, Gurgaon has a total area of 1.8 million sq.ft and offers almost a kilometre of shopping experience, with a grand lobby, a seven- screen multiplex and landscaped big atrium.

On the other hand, the mall at Vasant Kunj, with an area of 1.1 million sq.ft, is a lifestyle distinction, which attempts to offer an unparalleled retail mix, combined with entertainment and leisure attractions, to raise the standards of mall experience.

Shah: The mall in Gurgaon houses mass to premium retail offerings. The entertainment options range from ‘Funcity’ for children to ‘Blu O’ for young adults and ‘Golfworx’ for mature audience. The mall in Vasant Kunj caters to the people who have a young, savvy and trendy outlook on life. It is a lifestyle destination.

Q. What is the revenue format for the malls: profit-sharing or fixed rent?
Goel: Monthly minimum guarantee or revenue share, whichever is higher.

Q. What was the brief given to the mall architects?
Goel: To design a mall that celebrates the spirit of togetherness. To design great corridors, huge atriums, a space that exudes positive energy, effective and easy circulation.

Q. How do you promote the malls? Have you also employed customer engagement programmes at your malls?
Goel: The malls are being promoted through various mediums. We are reaching out to the customer through the electronic media, including radio channels and the internet. The malls also run loyalty programmes which offer rewards to shoppers.

Q. What percentage of your revenue do you spend on marketing activities?
Goel: The marketing spend is a function of mall activities. We spend 3-10 per cent of the revenue on marketing.

Q. What are your expectations from Ambience Malls?
Shah: The malls are social destinations; we want the malls to serve our patrons and exceed their expectations. We hope to be the first choice of our patrons.

Q. Ambience Mall, Vasant Kunj houses the maiden stores of brands such as Timberland and Ayesha, among others. How did you get them on board?
Goel: We enjoy a great relationship with our partners who are systematically approached to be a part of the Ambience story, which is about building a shopping mall with a soul. This soul, in turn, connects with the soul of the patrons. We strongly believe in the fact that ‘alone we can do so little, together, we can do much’.

Q. Going forward, what other retail projects can we expect from the group?
Shah: We have always believed in delivering a complete experience. At present, we are only concentrating on these two malls; once we are satisfied with the delivery, we will be happy to announce new projects.

This interview was originally published in January 2011 issue of Images Retail

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