Manoj Agarwal, Head of Operations, L&T Realty (Elante, Chandigarh), talks about the journey of Elante Mall and how fruitful the last one year has been for them. In a tête-à-tête with Shopping Centre News, he elaborates on the competition, customers’ response, mall positioning and the roadmap that the company has chalked out for the future of the mall.
Q. Elante has completed its first year of operation. How has the journey been so far?
The last year has been a year of achievements and we have established a strong presence in the northern region of India. Over the last one year, the mall has made a mark as a leading shopping destination in the tri-city boasting of the best 200-odd brands in the fashion retail industry. The mall has witnessed over 1 crore footfall since its opening in April 2013. The footfall figures showcase the popularity and appreciation that people have shown towards Elante, Chandigarh.
Q . Elante was the first large-scale mall in the tri-city. Do you think you have reaped the benefit of getting first mover advantage?
While it is true that the mall has been the first super regional mall in the tri-city and in North India, the success of the mall is due to the well thought out brand mix, shopper-friendly amenities, international design, ideal location and the customer connect that the mall has developed with its customers over the course of time.
Q. With the opening of North Country Mall in Mohali, do you think the footfall of Elante will be affected?
We believe that the opening of the North Country Mall is a healthy competition. However, we do not think the footfall of Elante will be affected by it, as Elante has already created a niche for itself.
Q. How you have positioned your mall? Who are your target group of visitors?
Elante has been successful in positioning itself as a ‘preferred and happening shopping destination.’ This has led to the mall being featured on the map of Chandigarh. Like all developments in the retail space, Elante, too, is a community destination and is patronised by all. Elante has premium, value for money and luxury brands, which address the need of the various client mix of the region.
Q. What special initiatives are you taking to convert the regular walk-ins into regular guests?
The mall regularly conducts high-quality events, promotions and interactive activities, which develop results in excellent customer engagement thereby ensuring regular and repeat visits by its patrons. Elante has conducted special promotions like Elante Diwali Fiesta, Christmas and New Year celebrations, Baisakhi and first anniversary celebrations along with high visibility promotions like Disney Princesses Academy, Apple iPhone 5S launch , Sony Music launch, and automobile launches apart from a host of others.
Q. What is the USP of Elante Mall? What is the differentiating factor that gives the required fillip to your mall?
In our opinion, the mall’s brand mix and a huge variety of shopping options combined with its international design and ambience, large and convenient parking space among the unique courtyard, host of food and beverage brands and the multi-use development model have all created the USP for the mall, which makes the mall unique and a delight for its customers.
Q. What kind of budget do you allocate for the mall marketing, advertising and promotion purposes?
We have the budget in keeping with the pre-planned annual calendar, which covers all major festivals and special days of the year.
Q. Please tell us about the anchor and mini anchors at the mall?
The mall has 11 anchor stores, which include brands like Pantaloons, Shoppers Stop, Westside, Zara, Lifestyle, PVR, Big Bazaar, Marks and Spencer, Reliance Trends, Fun City and bluO. The mini anchors include The Collective, Reliance Digital, Max, Splash, Hamley’s Toy Store, etc.
Q. Which are the key vanilla retailers in the mall?
The mall has over 160 vanilla stores with some key vanilla stores like Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein, Vero Moda, Promod, Tommy Hilfiger, FCUK , Mango, Gant, Jack & Jones, Next, Nautica, Steve Madden, Bebe, Charles and Keith, ALDO, Superdry, Diesel, Kenneth Cole, Quicksilver, Steve Madden, Swarovski, Forest Essentials, Inglot, M.A.C, Clinique, Clarks, The Body Shop, Wills Lifestyle, Being Human, Hush Puppies, Levi’s, Pepe, Lee, Wrangler, Louis Philippe, Fabindia, Meena Bazaar, Allen Solly, Flying Machine, and PUMA among others.
Q. Do you encourage regional or local retailers in your mall? Do you have any specific zone for them?
Yes, we have a lot of them across retail categories as both franchise and company driven. They are specifically dominant in food & beverage and fashion though there are present in others too.
Q. What kind of retail-rental relationship do you share with your tenants?
We have a pure lease model with a standard norm of minimum guarantee or revenue share with our retailers.
Q. Please tell us about the CSR initiatives that Elante Mall is involved in?
Elante Mall in its first year has contributed to society by working on the environment, health, women welfare and education of the city. The key focus area has been health wherein the mall has contributed significantly towards the health of the underprivileged children by donating a baby warmer, medicines and blankets for a government hospital and at the P.G.I . The mall also donated over 500 blankets during December-January 2014, to the slum areas in and around Chandigarh.
Q. Do you believe in the idea of green shopping centres? What all have you done to make your mall project a sustainable one?
During construction of the mall and the complex, prescribed norms to make the building energy friendly were observed. The mall has been developed keeping in mind the green sustainability in mind.
Q. Please tell us about the design aspect of Elante Mall.
The mall has been designed by Woodhead of Australia. The design of the mall offers all customer amenities ensuring customer comfort with user-friendly circulation covering both vertical and horizontal circulation, a central courtyard, energy conservation through natural light, world-class greenery covering both horticulture and plantation, well planned service and utility areas, and all key machinery in separate buildings. To provide convenience to all customers and retailer staff, we have of 40 escalators, 17 elevators, and 2 travellators. Apart from the above, we have 16-metre wide aisle spaces, Italian marble flooring on the entire ground floor, three separate washrooms per floor, over 5,500 parking bays and water fountains at the main entry and the courtyard.
Q. What is the occupational and vacancy rate at your mall?
The mall currently has 226 stores. It opened with 56 percent occupancy and today it has almost completed lease with only four stores to be opened for which the talks are in advance stage.
Q. What cautions do you keep in mind before leasing out malls and what are the do’s and don’ts for creating the right brand mix?
We create a wish list through a process of customer feedback. A list of brands is then finalised as per category or zoning plans to create a bouquet of complete brand mix for customers. We adhere to the zoning in the mall. Apart from this, we have a criteria document for the look and feel of all stores, which is driven by us to ensure that the look and feel of each store is befitting the mall and is of international scale.
Q. How mature is the retail real estate segment in India? How much do you think the segment has evolved in the past one
Being a sunrise sector, the mall space has grown rapidly in the last 10 odd years. It has established itself as a must-have space in the community land space. Malls thus have become a must-visit destination for families and friends. They have enhanced not only the shopping experience but also the employment, trade and infrastructure development in all locations that they are present in.