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It’s all about gaining customers


The assumption that multiplexes only have audience is passé. With the emergence of at least two multiplex chains targeting cities beyond the metros bears testimony to this fact. Mexico-based chain Cinepolis for instance considers the various cities of Gujarat as its key territory for planning investments to the tune of Rs. 1,000 crore to set up 400 screens across the country. Again, well-established in South India, Carnival Cinemas is present in various smaller cities of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Experts feel that the occupancy rates in smaller cities are much higher and the propensity to spend over movies and good food is not exclusive to metros.
Also malls are resorting to various means when it comes to generating footfalls and converting them to actual spending. The latest trend in line seems to be updating playlists with pop and rock hits to entice younger shoppers and keep them from turning to online retail.

Multiplex owners looking to grab greater share of the entertainment pie

Mexico-based cine multiplex chain Cinepolis, which runs 96 screens in India, plans to invest around Rs. 1,000 crore to have 400 screens in the country by 2017. It is the first international multiplex chain to begin operations in Vadodara city and is currently operating 18 cinema screens in Gujarat, which is the highest in any state. Gujarat is a key territory in the company’s overall growth plans to reach their 400 screens target by 2017. The company recently launched its 6-screen multiplex at Inorbit Mall on the Alembic-Gorwa Road. This launch coincided with the 43rd anniversary of Cinepolis, which was founded on 30 September 1971. Since then, Cinepolis has run multiplex screens in 11 countries including Mexico, the US and others. In India, Cinepolis ranks fourth among Indian competitors in terms of number of screens. The company does not see any difficulty in reaching the target of 400 screens across India despite a slowdown in the real estate business due to which construction of malls have also been affected. Also, Cinepolis is a debt-free company, which does not intend to enter the capital market in India. The Group has plans to open another 41 screens before the end of the year and cross the 100-screen mark, including three megaplexes.

However, multiplexes are not just about top tier cities in India, with Carnival Cinemas  breaking the myth by gaining ground in tier-II and -III cities. The company feels that the cost of putting up multiplexes in the metros is high although the revenue is good too. However, the occupancy rates in smaller cities are much higher. Also, people watching movies with good food and other facilities are not just exclusive of a metro population. Well established in South India (Carnival began operations from Kerala), Carnival Cinemas is now present in Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Under the project ‘Vision 300’, the company plans to open 300 screens across India by 2015. Carnival currently has 125 signed screens and is in talks with two major players in the segment – one South based and another pan India – to meet its projected target. However, this does not mean that Carnival is ignoring the metros. Having acquired HDIL’s Broadway chain of multiplexes in Mumbai recently, Carnival Cinemas has set foot in the city too. While Carnival’s energies remain focused on its multiplex business, its other interests in movie production and real estate continue to receive attention. The company’s plans to expand the group’s chain of lounges – D’Bell – in Mumbai and Singapore are in line with its target to open more lounges in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Barcelona and Miami. The group also owns a cafe chain called Red Bubble Cafe. With six outlets open already, Carnival is looking at having around 50 of them ready by March 2015.

Malls set to get shoppers grooving to popular chartbusters

Malls and stores are updating playlists with pop and rock hits in an attempt to entice younger shoppers and keep them from turning to online retail.
India’s largest department store chain, Shoppers Stop is among those that have changed their in-store soundtrack to communicate the brand message and, more importantly, put people in the mood to spend. The whole idea is to treat the customer with a complete sensorial experience while shopping and the store also has a fortnightly ‘Artist Spotlight’, which focuses on a performer who has got a new album coming out or a tour lined up. Companies feel it is not just what you see but also what you hear that makes a difference in helping customers stay longer at the stores, which could eventually increase purchase volumes. Several brands and mall developers are now using cheery tracks to push up the tempo, getting rid of the traditional ambient piano or pan pipe music. Many retailers have always played tracks through in-store radio networks that also double up as channels for promotional announcements. However, in-store music has now become a much more important part of the overall mix. Mumbai’s High Street Phoenix mall complex, which houses more than 150 brands, now plays a range of music scores in specific zones. Last month, it also hosted a number of gigs by artists performing in various genres. Experts feel that the new-age shopper is a discerning individual, who is always on the lookout for something new. Things like (a high standard of) housekeeping and air-conditioning are passé and the next step is to tickle them with entertainment. High Street Phoenix, for instance, changes playlists every two hours. Given the importance of getting the music right, big chains and mall owners are turning to specialists who can design playlists to match the values of the brand and the imagery that needs to be conveyed. Phoenix Mall gets its collection put together by experts in Hong Kong and Singapore while Shoppers Stop’s playlists are drawn up by Blue Frog, which runs clubs, music studios, a record label and other related businesses. In fact, the most crucial demand of retailers is how to replicate the same ambience across hundreds of stores spread in many cities. While this has been a pain point for them, music has never been a focus earlier. So with a ready dashboard, the retailer can manage music and announcements across stores from their office itself. For retailers, it does not incur heavy costs either. According to experts, the price charged is Rs. 5 per square foot annually as fixed cost. Also getting a teen to go shopping may become a little less difficult, which is what the retailers hope to achieve.

Nitesh Estates buys out Plaza Centre Mall in Pune

Southern developer Nitesh Estates, which built India’s first Ritz-Carlton Hotel, has bought Israeli billionaire Mordechai Zisser’s 1-million sq.ft. Plaza Centre Mall in Pune for Rs. 300 crore. Zisser’s diversified conglomerate Elbit Imaging Group, through its subsidiary Plaza Centres, operates a global portfolio of 37 retail assets in Central and Eastern Europe and India, under the same brand. The acquisition of the Pune project, spread over 6.5 acres in Koregoan Park, by Nitesh Estates marks Elbit’s exit from retail in India after having invested in prime land parcels prior to the 2008 meltdown.

In search of a design standard

Pioneer Property Zone (PPZ), a property management and consultancy firm, has come up with a maiden research report series called The Decode Series, which focuses on retail design excellence. The report is aimed towards gearing the developer community with valuable feedback and insights from the retailer community, in the areas of design standards in retail stores across India. That apart, it also provides valuable understanding and insight as to how the standards in retail design have evolved over the years in our country. Furthermore, the report brings to light several quirks in store design followed by retail partners when it comes to designing stunning stores. Speaking on the launch of the report at the India Retail Forum 2014, Anand Sundaram, CEO, Pioneer Property Zone said: “The Indian retail market is projected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6 per cent to reach US$ 865 billion by 2023. Organised retail, which constituted 7 per cent of total retail in 2011–12, is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 24 per cent and attain 10.2 per cent share of total retail by 2016–17. With such immense growth trend ahead, it is imperative to get an understanding of the prevailing retailer trends and key challenges under organised retail, so as to contribute towards enhancing the design standards in India. I am glad this survey, which was undertaken with major retailers in India, is an effort towards the same. I truly believe that the Decode Series is a wonderful initiative and one that will help unravel the chasm between the retailer and the developer communities in India with unique insights every few months.” The report throws light on some of the key findings like 65 per cent of retailers prefer Vaastu compliance; 73 per cent prefer open shop fronts; 65 per cent feel better visibility is a direct result of open shop fronts; 49 per cent prefer shallow stores 1:3 over 1:4 ratio; 68 per cent prefer pop-out stores; 65 per cent are open to innovation; 90 per cent prefer a flexible design; 47 per cent change their window display every fortnight; and 43 per cent need staff storage up to 10 sq.m. Being the first edition from the Decode Series, the survey was conducted over a span of four months, with over 150 prominent retailers, national and international, who have presence in India. Respondents comprised business heads, architects and interior designers, project managers and design managers of the retail formats. The survey is expected to enable the readers to focus upon their area of expertise. While top management provided business view-point, the design managers and architects surveyed, have provided great insights into the functionality of the retail units.