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ISCF Inaugural Session- ‘Beyond Shopping, Creating Experiences, Reinventing Shopping Centres for the Consumer of Today’

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The 2015 edition of the India Shopping Centre (ISCF)—India’s largest and the only knowledge sharing platform for the Retail Real Estate industry—kick started today at the Renaissance Hotel, Mumbai. The theme this year of the two day event, organized by the IMAGES Group, is ‘Beyond Shopping, Creating Experiences: Reinventing Shopping Centres for the Consumer of Today.

At the inaugural session, some extremely pertinent issues related to the future of the shopping centre industry were discussed by an eminent panel while included S. Raghunandhan, Chairman ISCF 2015 and CEO, Virtuous Retail; Abhishek Bansal, ED, Pacific Malls; Anoop Bartaria, CMD, World Trade Park ; Javier Sotomayor, MD, Cinepolis; Nikhil Chaturvedi, MD, Prozone and Provogue ; Pallavi More, President, Growel 101; Kelvin NG, Head, CapitaL and Founder, Synergistic Real Estate; and Thomas C Malayil, Senior Advisor, The Jerde Partnership, USA. The session was moderated by Anuj Puri, Chairman and MD, JLL India.

Anuj Puri started the session by raising a stunning observation, he said that, “Back in 2007-8, every week there was a new mall opening and during the last year only one mall opened.” He wondered, “Why has this change happened in retail real estate in India? Is it a corrective move by the mall developers or is it that the market has come to a saturation?  Or is it that the market sentiments are weak?” To these questions, Nikhil Chaturvedi, MD, Prozone, replied that, “It will be wrong to say that the malls business is out but the viability in it has definitely gone down. There are many constraints attached to setting up a mall infrastructure in India. Developing is already a challenge and after the e-commerce boom the retailers find it a convenient channel to operate in. So yes, e-commerce has effected mall business in a way or the other.”

Talking on the impact of e-commerce on retail real estate, Kelvin NG, explained that, “In e-commerce certain categories do really well, but now even e-commerce players are looking at having their physical presence, in order to give a more authenticated feel to the customers. I believe that e-commerce has got the mall guys on their toes. They are today revamping their malls making them more experiential rather than just plain retail points.”

The second point of discussion was building malls in tier II and III cities, on which Anoop Bartaria, shared that, “Our mall, World Trade Park in Jaipur, has been a great success. While initially people were apprehensive about how a mall of such grandeur would fair in a city like Jaipur, but we are doing tremendously well. I believe that the gestation period for a mall in tier II and III is more than a metro, but if done right and relevantly then malls in smaller markets do have big potential.”
Abhishek Bansal, who has a malls in metros as well as in tier II and III markets shared that, “Initially when we started with Pacific Doon in Dehradun there were not many retailers keen to enter Dehradun, but, today all the leading retailers are there and the mall has full occupancy. For residents of Dehradun we have created a hangout place and a social space. This is why we are successful in a tier III city like Dehradun.”

Talking on the aspect of creating social spaces, S. Raghunandhan, said that “At Virtuous Retail, we are making malls and have no apprehensions in making newer, bigger and better malls. Our main focus is rather on creating intelligent malls. This has a USP of its own. We believe in creating community places, we saw that no mall was focusing on creating community spaces in the mall and this is the void that we at VR has filled.”

In the concluding remarks at the session Puri asserted that new shopping centres need to evolve out of solutions linked to spirit of serving the customers.