Mantri Square has marked the foray of Mantri Developers into the retail space in South India. The mall was launched in 2010 and since then, it has been setting trends and records in various areas ranging from architecture, footfall and unique technology, thus making it Bengaluru’s most loved shopping and leisure destination. With over 250 retail outlets and over a 10,000 brands occupying an area of 1.7 million sq.ft., Mantri Square Mall offers its patrons a shopping experience like none other. Aditya Sikri, CEO of PropCare Mall Management (Mantri Square) talks about the mall management.
Located on No. 1 Sampige Road, Malleshwaram, Mantri Square has the distinction of being the only mall in South India to have five departmental stores – Lifestyle, Marks & Spencer, Reliance Trends, Pantaloons and Shoppers Stop – all under one roof. Mantri Square also houses India’s largest Auchan Hypermarket, a six-screen multiplex operated by INOX Cinemas, Amoeba bowling alley and gaming centre. The mall enjoys the patronage of over 14 lakh shoppers every month and it even created a record when it welcomed its 10-millionth shopper within 7 months of its opening in September 2010 – a record for the Indian shopping centre industry.
Inaugurated in March 2010, Mantri Square is one of the very few malls in India to have an ISO 9001:2008 certification from German-based TUV Nord in recognition of its international standards of facility operations, maintenance and marketing. The mall has been designed by architects of international repute and hence Mantri Square has been a pioneer in getting international trends like the international practice of ‘zoning’ of its retailers.
One of the mall’s biggest USPs is its connectivity to the Sampige Road Metro Station, which has been jointly developed by the metro rail authorities and Mantri Developers. A bridge leads the commuters getting off at the station to the first floor of the mall, providing shoppers an international experience. The average monthly footfall at the mall is over 1.50 million visitors.
Journey so far
Aditya Sikri says: “It has been a great journey for us having completed four years of successful operations in Bengaluru. Our customers and retailers are our greatest assets and they have played a significant role in helping us flourish all the way through our journey of becoming the most admired shopping centre in Bengaluru. We have always worked towards providing the best quality services, facilities and also provide a holistic shopping experience to the shoppers and their families.”
The mall’s total built-up area is 17 lakh sq.ft. and gross leasable area is 9 lakh sq.ft. Klaus Multiparking System at Mantri Square facilitates parking of over 2,000 cars and 750 two-wheelers.
Hub of brands
Mantri Square’s anchor stores include Shoppers Stop, Lifestyle, Marks and Spencer, Pantaloons, INOX and Auchan. The mall hosts over 250 renowned stores, some of which include McDonald’s, Samsung, The Imagine Store, Mothercare, Jumbo, Reliance Digital, Reliance Trends, The Body Shop, Pizza Hut, KFC and Amoeba.
Mantri Square is home to a state-of-the-art 6-screen multiplex by INOX Cinemas, a large bowling alley and gaming centre by Amoeba. With shopping and entertainment set in place, food cannot be far behind. The mall presents on a grand platter 39 food and beverage outlets, representing cuisines from different parts of the world.
Sikri elaborates: “In the last 4 years, Mantri Square has evolved as Bengaluru’s most loved and preferred shopping and leisure destination with an array of diverse engagement campaigns for the shoppers. We believe in delivering a wholesome shopping experience to our customers through our unique tenant mix and entertainment options. It is a one-stop destination for families for all their basic needs as well as their desires. With a mall of our size, it is imperative for us to house something for everyone, which is exactly how we have positioned ourselves.”
A strong catchment area is key prerequisite for the success of a mall. Connectivity, visibility, competition in the neighbouring areas, the density of population around the mall, and socio-economic classification of the consumers residing in that location are imperative factors that drive the profitability of the mall business. “Mantri Square is located at Malleswaram, Bengaluru, which is a densely populated locality. The mall has a population of over 2 million living within its primary catchment area. We believe our location has been an advantage for us being easily accessible from the central locations in the city,” Sikri adds.
Mantri Square has imbibed the international practice of ‘zoning’ of its retailers, thus making the shopping extremely comfortable for the shopper and in turn profitable for the retailer. The kind of zoning they provide to these retailers facilitates like-minded brands to be placed under one roof, which helps shoppers to easily distinguish the stores. Some of the key zones are men’s formalwear (consisting of men’s apparel and fashion accessories retailers), women’s fashion zone (consisting of women’s fashion – ethnic and saris and fashion accessories like fashion jewellery, footwear, handbags and cosmetics), youth zone (consisting of fashion clothing from jeans to casualwear and sportswear) and so on.
PropCare Mall Management is responsible for managing the mall.
The retail scenario in India is rapidly changing in terms of consumer taste, shopping habits, and increasing spending power of consumers. Amidst the evolving retail landscape, the role of an efficient mall management holds great importance to keep pace with the growing competition.
Mall management is all about striking the right balance in all the key factors like tenant mix, marketing initiatives, ambience management, community services, facility management, traffic management and best business practices. A strong mall management strategy is one where the value of the asset keeps increasing year on year.
According to Sikri, the customer holds the key to every successful retail operation, having the right mix of retailers. Also, staff training in centres plays an important role in determining footfalls. Retailers and the staff need to go the extra mile to deliver customer satisfaction. Well-trained, cordial and responsible staff ensures positive responses, strengthening the brand image. Just building a mall will not get the footfalls; what is needed is to have the right mix of everything that is from tenants, to design, to hospitality. Customers come to a mall for the experience they get there and if a mall is able to provide a memorable shopping experience while keeping their needs in mind, customers are bound to frequent the mall.
Key design elements
Mantri Square combines modern design with contemporary Indian aesthetics through its unique and innovative architecture design. The mall’s main focus was to create an international style ambience with focus on the comfort of the shopper. Sikri informs: “Designed by the internationally renowned Bentel Associates of South Africa and Chisel Associates, Bengaluru, Mantri Square today complements Bengaluru’s status of a ‘global city’.
We make optimal utilisation of spaces in the mall with interesting mix of events and brand activation programmes to ensure there is circulation of visitors throughout the mall. This negates any potential dead spaces or blind spots.”
According to a recent report, India is still a largely untapped and unorganised retail market as a large number of prominent global retailers are yet to commence operations here. The country holds a considerable advantage over other emerging retail destinations due to its strong domestic consumption and low rate of market penetration by international retailers.
Multichannel retailing is an undeniable force right now. The Web and mobile are fundamentally changing the way people shop and challenging traditional brick-and-mortar retailers. In the current retail scenario, amidst the tough competition, it is imperative for mall players to have a smart mall management strategy keeping in mind the changing consumer perceptions.
Sikri explains: “A mall is dependent on the success of the tenants. Customers today have more power than ever. Hence, there is a growing need to enhance the engagement level with customers with a professional mall management strategy and facilitate a complete shopping experience (inclusive of shopping, dining and entertainment) under one roof. Mantri Square has been the trend-setter in the retail sector. In 2010, when Mantri Square started business, the mall had over 40 retail stores and brands, which were opening their first store either in India or at Bengaluru at the mall, thereby giving the people of Bengaluru many new brands which until then they did not have access to.”
Technology driving mall business
It is a well known fact that the survival of retail business is highly determined by technological advancement today. Technology has transformed the buying behaviour of customers everywhere. There is an increasing need of rethinking concepts of selling and customer service to create a 21st century retail experience.
Mantri Square has introduced the pioneering concept of interactive touch-panel based digital mall directories for the ease of its customers. The idea behind installing the digital directories was to empower the shoppers and enable them to have the information at their fingertips. Furthermore, they have linked their system to the Point of Sale (POS) system of the retailers. This helps them to understand if customers like certain categories more than others. Sikri points: “The contribution made for the common area maintenance is ultimately for the comfort of the customers. We offer high-quality services and facilities in terms of parking facilities, power supply, security, washrooms, efficient staff round the clock to keep the mall hygienic, baby care rooms, kids play areas, hi-tech security, and many other services and facilities to enhance the shopping experience for customers. We ensure a perfect retail experience taking care of every detail to maintain the wow factor and encourage more walk-ins.”
Traditionally, the southern region had been dominated by local brands (mostly family owned) and departmental stores. “The customers had been shopping in these stores for generations. We took utmost care of each detail starting from the design, architecture and the layout of the mall, zoning, and right tenant mix to deliver high-quality retail experience. While designing the mall, we emphasised on creating an international style ambience with the main focus on shopper comfort. We identified our biggest challenge at an early stage, that is, to get into a customer’s mindset. Once we achieved that, our perspective and execution became clear,” shares Sikri.
Some other key challenges faced by mall or retail space developers are:
- A single window clearance has been on the wish list of all the mall developers for some time now. At present, about 30 or more licenses are required before a real estate player can actually start developing the mall. Having a single window clearance will definitely add to the attractiveness of Indian retail for global players who are eying entry into the Indian market.
- High cost of land and construction in the metro cities is also a challenge.
- Lack of infrastructure and efficient facility management has also been a constraint for Indian mall developers.
“New policies are expected to expedite the flow of funds into the sector. We foresee a new lease of life in the demand for retail space. Global investors are more optimistic about the Indian economy, which is expected to boost the foreign investment confidence. As a developer, we hope to see an ease in land acquisition parameters so that availability of land is no longer a major constraint,” reveals Sikri.
Mantri Square understands its responsibility towards the society, and further to this they have been consistently spearheading activities to support important issues in society and create widespread awareness around it.
The unique initiatives spearheaded by Mantri Square reiterate its belief to give back to society, create positive change and add value to every community in which it exists. Being a socially responsible organization, Mantri Square has taken up significant issues like anti-smoking, autism, child labour, breast cancer to name a few and hosted campaigns to spread awareness around the issues.
Keeping up to its commitment towards environment protection, Mantri Square has positively kicked off activities to support the cause and set an inspiring example as the leader in the industry.
Year on year Mantri Square has been actively supporting eco-friendly initiatives at the grass root level through replacing ordinary lights with energy-saving ones, installing monitoring systems for air-conditioning units, installing garbage convertors for proper treatment and conversion of waste, and raising awareness to stop the usage of plastic bags by launching its earth bag to name a few.
As a developer Mantri Square strongly believes and has been consistently implementing best practices focused at sustainable development. Mantri Developers has been conferred with the most prestigious CII-ITC Sustainability Awards 2013 in recognition of the company’s strong commitment and earnest efforts to achieve sustainable development. “The CII-ITC Sustainability Awards are an industry benchmark to recognise the contribution of notable thought leaders, promoters and institutions, which helped to translate the vision of creating a sustainable world into reality and have successfully instituted sustainability in some element of their business,” adds Sikri.
Mantri Developers have been working with tenants on the minimum guarantee and revenue share model. The success of a mall is dependent on the profitability of the tenants and the traffic that they bring to the mall. This aligns the landlord and the tenant, as both enjoy the rewards of a positive joint effort towards bringing in the customer. The developers maintain the mall over time-taking care of the entire facility and infrastructure management, attracting the right tenant mix, and proper zoning to make the shopping comfortable for the shopper and in turn profitable for the retailer.
Currently, their focus is on South India. “Our vision is to continue being a trend-setter in the industry offering the best mix of brands and adopting latest technology. We are currently developing malls in Bengaluru that will surely be the next benchmark in the shopping mall industry,” concludes Sikri.