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India’s hottestemerging retail destinations revealed

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For the holistic growth of the retail industry, we need new international brands to foray in India. We also need the national brands, or the already established international brands, to reach out the discerning customers of tier-III and -IV towns. And, for all this to happen we need new malls – malls which can offer quality retail space, which are world class, and which are much awaited. The definition of malls in India has moved beyond just any other shopping destination. Coming 2016, the malls are bringing in newer concepts with cutting-edge infrastructure, technology and mall management strategies. They are shaping into social destinations offering unique shopping, food and entertainment experiences. The idea is to define newer parameters and retail therapies to gain more traction.
The upcoming malls of India are doing things differently than their predecessors; they have accepted that the only way to stay relevant in this digital age is to embrace the change and to convert this change into reality. For example, malls are now emphasising on making food and entertainment, a dedicated and important segment at a mall. At some of these upcoming malls, food and entertainment category is as high as 40 per cent of the total leasable area.
This would significantly enhance the overall customer experience by offering more reasons than ever to come to a mall than for shopping purposes.
“As malls are now trying to accommodate a wide array of retailers and outlets, the average mall size has increased from 275,000 sq. ft. of gross leasable area (GLA) in 2009 to over 415,000 sq. ft. of GLA in 2015, and is expected to further increase for all the upcoming malls to about 500,000 sq. ft. of GLA,” says Rohit Kumar, Head of India Research, DTZ India.
Susil S. Dungarwal, Promoter and Chief Mall Mechanic, Beyond Squarefeet says: “While there are not too many malls coming up in the immediate future, the first quarter of 2016 may see a few large malls in Noida or Greater Noida region. These malls can probably change someaspects and expectations.”
Malls redefining the Indian retail landscape
Customers in the 21st century are more eager to adapt new and modified style of living due to lack of entertainment avenues. The growing popularity of e-commerce and the constant threat to the physical shopping phenomenon is changing the retail realty landscape. Malls are trying to evolve into an innovative platform to engage with their patrons to make the mall visiting experience more engaging and enriching.
According to Vishal Mirchandani, CEO – Retail & Commercial, Brigade Enterprises: “Some of the key trends in the country’s retail markets are: change in size of malls, change in the average number of stores per mall, and retail product category distribu on (per cent total retail area).”
Talking about the USP of their upcoming project, Orion East, Mirchandani says: “Orion East Mall is being positioned as a perfect-sized neighbourhood mall, which will provide an international experience to the shoppers and will satiate their retail, social and entertainment needs. Our endeavour is to be an energetic community hub and a mall that offers aspirational shopping values to consumers. The mall’s design is international in look, efficient for operations and convenient in location making it attractive for retailers and shoppers alike.”
The malls are a by-product of passion, sincerity and dedication of the developers, mall management teams and everyone involved in the process. Talking about one such upcoming and soon-to-be-launched retail realty project, DLF Mall of India, Pushpa Bector, Senior Vice President and Head (Leasing and Mall Management), proudly says: “DLF Mall of India is going to be the largest destination mall of the country with a dedicated retail space of 2 million sq. ft. The mall is introducing the concept of ‘Zoning’ in India and would offer an eclectic ensemble of retail offerings spread across five zones defined as Marketplace, International Boulevard, The High Street, Family World, and Leisure Land.”
The new-age malls are aiming at being the social spaces, and pioneering this aspect is the mall that believes in the ideology of ‘Un-malling’ and breaking the clutter of stereotype shopping centres to create its own niche is VR, Bengaluru. It is an integrated metropolitan community centre that offers consumers the space to get together and bond, way beyond what the existing retail environments provide. More than just a retail hub, it is meant to be a getaway for families – a place to soak up the arts, theatre, music and culture. The USP of VR Bengaluru is how they ‘UNMALL’ from the regular shopping centres.
Apart from innovating in terms of design and offering aspects, new-age malls will also focus on being technology centric. Talking about the importance of technology in malls, Vijay Kumar, Executive Director, Virginia Mall says: “Each location of Virginia Malls has a unique theme built on the catchment. Technology being the centre of the whole approach, Virginia Whitefield is themed around sports, adventure and entertainment, considering the young, globally aware, health-conscious and premium catchment we are located in. Virginia Patnycircle is themed around Hyderabad’s love for Tollywood.”
With the increase in population, each city is expanding at its own pace, thereby necessitating the government to change norms and improve the available infrastructure, not only in the metros but also in tier-II and -III cities, as a couple of very pertinent retail realty projects are scheduled to open in the smaller ci es also.
“The Great Mall of Kota is the first mall being developed by ACIL on Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis, which has been completed and its operations are about to commence before Diwali 2015 ,” says Arun Sahai Ahluwalia from the Great Mall of Kota.
On the other hand, Bestech Mall is trying to be innovative in their entertainment offering by bringing in something new to the Tricity of Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali. They have appointed a professional agency to create a signage story for the en  re  mall as well. They also have plans to manage the en  re  mall with latest technology of parking, signage, sales revenue monitoring and ensuring that the end customer appreciates the services offered.
Talking about the mall that is scheduled to open in the most happening tourist destination of India, Goa, Mall De Goa is the first full-fledged mall in the entire state of Goa, where the national as well as international retailers have signed up for stores. The mall will give the State of Goa a facelift in terms of introducing its firstcar li s  in Goa, latest state-of-the-art fire-fighting and safety measures like pressurised staircase as well as ventilated basements, etc.
One of the most anticipated and awaited projects that will uplift the entire MMR zone is Lodha Group’s Xperia Mall. “What makes Xperia uniquely customer insatiable is its strategic location with the positioning of fun retailment. Xperia is situated at what is being pegged as one of the hottest catchments for organised retail within MMR. Sited at one of the vantage entrances to Palava City, off the arterial Kalyan Shil road, it is located at the centre of economic activity between Thane, Navi Mumbai and Kalyan. It is India’s first high-octane entertainment destination mall,” says Shaishav Dharia, Development Director, Lodha Group.
Lodha Xperia will cater to a catchment that has the highest intersection between growing per capita income and lack of organised retail space. To illustrate, Xperia has a 20-minute proximity and sound connectivity to areas panning right up to Thane-Belapur road, Thane and Navi Mumbai ITes corridor, let alone Kalyan and Ulhasnagar.
One of the most important and holistic project coming up in  Delhi NCR is  ‘Gardens Galleria’,  located on the nerve centre of Noida, Gardens Galleria boasts of excellent connectivity to Delhi, the mall is a perfect mix of entertainment and retail offerings.
Gardens Galleria is next big shopping and recreation destination. Gardens Galleria will be an opulent get-away spot which would offer an array of exquisite experience for shopping and entertainment, be it international rides, games, shopping, fine dining or even banquets in its impeccable style.
Unique Positioning of Garden Galleria is that it is part of 147 acres Entertainment City, which is to be promoted as 2N3D (2 night 3 day) destination with approximately 200 room keys hotel, amusement park, water park, go karting, manmade lake, The Great India Place Mall (TGIP), Garden’s Galleria Mall along with facility of around 12000 car park.
Design USP of the malls
The new-age malls are focusing on giving a world-class experience to their visitors and at the same   time no two malls want to be alike. Although the tenant mix at the malls remains the same, it is the design aspect that remains the main differentiating factor for the malls.
One of such mall, whose main USP is its design, is the upcoming Omaxe Project, which is coming up in the NCR region.
“Designed as a reinterpretation of the timeless and classic Connaught Place in a contemporary setting at Greater Noida, it will be one of the largest shopping-cum-entertainment centres in Northern India. The uniqueness of the mall is its huge, wide corridors inspired by Georgian architecture, which bring back memories of shopping at Connaught Place, Delhi. OCP is not just a shopping centre but a canvas of history that has its timeless beautiful architecture, which aims to entertain, educate and excite its visitors,” says Mohit Goel, CEO, Omaxe.
According to Kimar of Virginia Malls: “Virginia Whitefield has a front visibility of over 700 running feet. The mall is designed to have three entertainment zones at three levels offering three different themes of entertainment at ground, second and terrace levels. The retail and F&B spaces are interspersed between these spaces. Our restaurants and the Sky bar are designed to have a view of the lake spread over 450 acres.”
One of the most anticipated malls of NCR region, DLF Mall of India is planned and designed by the renowned and award-winning international firm of architects, master-planners and interiors experts. Bector says: “Our brief to Benoy (architect) was very clear that we wanted something which appeals to the urban contemporary Indian customer. What came out was another unique design element, which got incorporated through the Racetrack Atrium that offered excellent visibility for all store fronts coupled with more than 75 express escalators and revolutionary travellators for enhanced mobility across the zones.”
Bector further says: “DLF is cautious of the environment and carbon footprints, and complies with Ashrae 90.1. It would be one of the highly efficient green buildings of the times.”
The property is the country’s first LEED Gold certified mall and has intelligent air-conditioning sensors to sense the human emission of heat load. It boasts of unique energy-saving features, which reiterate our commitment to preserve the environment.”
Mall De Goa has used extensive natural light as their design USP, UV-resistant materials like stretched fabric for the atrium dome, and DGU glass in the façade of the mall, thereby bringing down the operational costs.
“Xperia is planned to have a state-of-the-art dumbbell design and a double race track design along with an ambient and unique European-themed food court. Moreover, the Clock Tower on the façade outside the plaza, which will be clearly visible from Kalyan Shil road, will become Xperia’s distinct identity amongst any other mall in the country,” says Dharia.
Carrying forward the local culture and heritage of the region is the most awaited realty project of Bengaluru – VR Bengaluru. The mall pays homage to the local community by incorporating elements of the cultural heritage of Bengaluru and Karnataka in its interior and exterior design schemes. From the iconic ‘I Heart BLR’ installation in the Garden City to the refreshing façade of ‘Whitefield Arms’, the British Pub, the design USP of VR Bengaluru lies in its ode to the multi-faceted culture of the city.
Malls becoming social spaces
Bestech Square Mall is now making way for the most sought after FEC player in the country today to join hands so that an iconic entertainment destination may be created for its patrons. However, cinema, food court and other social hangout offerings such as microbrewery, etc. are already a part of the leasing scheme.
Bhuvanish Sheth, Director – Marketing and Finance, Jai Bhuvan Builders says: “Mall De Goa has a well-designed atrium, which will be conducting events, promotions and social activities like celebrating local festivals, promoting local art and culture in addition to the routine business. Any visitor to the mall should go back with memories and come again for shopping.”
In an attempt to be a social space, Xperia has even gone one step ahead by conducting hobby studios for women to bond over cooking, families to bond over photography workshops, art, theatre events, and performing arts. “We have planned a 250-day event calendar, which will also feature various community festive events like Ganesh Pooja and Gokul Asthami to create a deep connect with our communities,” says Dharia from Lodha Group.
Bector states that DLF Mall of India would be reaching out to over 49 colleges, 47 corporate houses and residential colonies present in the vicinity, making it a destination across all age groups. As the mall lies in the Golden Triangle route (Delhi – Agra – Jaipur), it will also target the tourists on the way as well as visitors from tier-II and -III cities like Meerut, Chandigarh, Jaipur and Agra.
“Our endeavour would be to create an exciting and a vibrant retail platform wherein we qualitatively interact, engage and subtly educate while giving the shoppers an ideal social platform to meet their collective needs. Events would be curated keeping in mind the objective to provide a value-added experience to our shoppers of all age,” says Mirchandani.
“Primarily, location and outputs of our surveys help us decide on the brand and product mix. However, our aim is to provide a variety of retail options and amenities in order to attract maximum footfall and bring about a paradigm shift of preference from mom-and-pop outlets to our mall. In our mall, we try to bring a family together by catering to the needs of the entire household, ranging from apparels, accessories, eating joints to entertainment avenues. We anticipated the trend that Ranchi would become a preferred mode of commute for people of all demographics and, hence, strategically developed malls could cater day-to-day needs of customers. On the other hand, for the launch of our first luxury mall which targets the niche segment of society with high spending power having a demand of premium high-end brands ,” aays Rohit Agarwal, Director, Adarsh Heights.
Malls entering tier-II & -III towns
An ideal total built-up area should be around 2 lakh sq. ft. for a mall in a tier-II city. For Ahluwalia, nowadays small towns turn out to be more lucrative as compared to metro cities since the latter have already been exhausted by the retailers. With the increase in income, people in the tier-II cities have requisite interest and affordability to buy expensive brands at par with the metropolitan cities.
Further, with the improved infrastructure now available in small towns and cities, retailers are more than eager to enter into these areas. With the option of PPP/BOT Projects and Change of Land Use available, one can create enough space to build malls in these cities.
Dungarwal believes: “The potential in Indian tier-I and -II towns is higher both in case of spending and availability of time. While many retailers were hesitant to go to smaller towns earlier, we see many of them flocking to these towns now. Like China, Indian tier-IV and -V cities will also see a possible mall culture but will take some more time. The markets normally penetrate organically, and this will happen to this sector as well.”
“The Retail Industry has grown only in tier Iand few tier II cities. It has to go deeper in India, as the life of every citizen is improving. Creating a one stop shop like Symphony Mall, in Bhubaneswar, will expose the people of the city to the culture of shopping in tier I cities and will impact their lifestyle positively. Change the way people will shop and  their lifestyle will change, that’s our idea. We are sure once we commence operations, many retailers will see the contribution of Bhubaneswar and Cuttak population to the organized shopping industry. Bhubaneswar has places like Janpath where you see almost all retailers struggling for space. Issues of parking, traffic management, adequate floor plate for retailers, height etc. further kills the shopping environment. The team at Symphony Mall, thus intends to bring the catchment together and provide one stop destination – that’s Symphony  Mall,” says, Nitin Bichala
Oorjita Projects.
Talking about Symphony mall, Bichala, says: “Our team has collated all the needs of consumers and tries to address it in best possible way. We have 2 fashions anchors to take keep the fashion index higher. Hypermarket will take care of day to day needs of the catchment. Multiplex & FEC will keep the youthfulness alive and the taste of local and international cuisines at the food court and restaurants, will take care of the taste buds of the catchment. As I said before , it’s a one stop shop for happiness.
We intend to commence the mall operations in Q2, 2016.The mall shell is ready and our work on common area interiors, will be starting very soon.
Till last month our focus was to bring get in the right mix at the centres. We have got Pantaloon, Inox and Big Bazaar together to partner the success. The marketing and signing of vanilla will initiate from October 2015. We will start our marketing campaign getting live. Our marketing strategy is in place and will go live on coming Diwali. Post that we have lot of marketing activates to connect with the catchment.
Anchor and key vanilla retailors
At Xperia, anchors include PVR, Big Bazaar, Central, Hometown, M&S, Reliance Digital, brands of Aditya Birla Group, Arvind Group and many others. One of the star attractions will be SMAAASH!, the only rooftop Go-Carting arena in the whole of northern Mumbai.
Mall De Goa already has Inox, Big Bazaar, Shoppers Stop, M&S and Amoeba as its anchor retailers and Tommy Hilfiger, Dunkin Donuts, CK, Benetton, Levi’s, USPA, ED Hardy, Pepe, Nike, PUMA, Apple, LP, Allen Solly, Van Heusen, Fabindia, Crossword, Blackberry, AND, Wills Lifestyle, Park Avenue, and ColorPlus as vanilla retailers.
The Bestech Square Mall is approximately 60 per cent leased with suitable brands and concepts; further leasing activity is in full swing. In the anchor category, the mall has signed brands like Cinema by ‘Cinepolis’; Food Court by ‘Food Quest’; Hypermarket by ‘Savemax’; Fashion Anchor by ‘Reliance Trends’ and ‘Footprints’; other brands such as Reliance Digital, Max Lifestyle and an FEC have also been finalised. Talking about key tenants at Orion East, Mirchandani says: “Shoppers Stop and other fashion brands such as Louis Philippe, Van Heusen, Allen Solly, Jack and Jones, Vero Moda, US Polo, LP Sports, Skechers, PUMA, Jashn, Fabindia and Soch to name a few, are an ideal fit for the fashion conscious. This mix is fantastically complimented by food and beverage options both within the quick service restaurants, a dynamic food court and fine dining experiences. The F&B include Sbarro, Kailash Parbat, Beijing Bites, Waffle Stories, Baskin-Robbins, The Baking Company, Rajdhani, McDonald’s, etc. Entertainment is an integral part of our social fabric and Cinepolis Multiplex enhances the entertainment quotient in the neighbourhood.”
ATL & BTL activities
In an effort to communicate an unique mixed use development, a far cry from a usual mall, Virtuous Retail needed a unique communication strategy to go to the market. The UN campaign was conceptualised to present VR Bengaluru to the market, primarily retailers and industry players, to think out of the box and encourage to UNMall, UNOffi ce and UNHotel at VR Bengaluru. It also included developing a bold leasing brochure, dynamic signage for the on-site sales centre, branded video brochure for tenant audiences, 12 full-colour leasing print ads in industry magazines, state-of-the-art website, custom e-mail marketing with key updates, project milestones and invitations to exclusive preview events, etc.,” says Ankit Samdariya, Vice President – Asset Management and Acquisitions, Virtuous Retail/Xander.
“Virginia has been focused on creating a buzz only with our retail partners. Closer to our launch, we will be pushing an integrated campaign combining the best online, offline, and traditional mediums to introduce the Virginia brands to visitors. Ours being a smart mall, we will provide constant promotions and events to ensure excitement,” opines Kumar.
Bestech Mall regularly participates in retail and real estate trade magazines in the form of articles, advertisements and write-ups. They have a budgeted and phased approach to the visibility and the MarCom Plan. They also do advertising at local level in Chandigarh with hoardings and direct mailers campaign, to name a few.
So far, the entire focus of the DLF Mall of India has been on B2B marketing, along with a strong focus on retailer initiatives and leadership across B2B forums, complemented with direct marketing. “Our main focus   ll the   me  was to create visibility of this marquee project amongst the stakeholders and the industry while also showcasing the features to the prospective anchor tenants and brands.
Closer to the launch, we are going to kick-start a 360 degree B2C marketing campaign targeted at the visitors and the target audience in the vicinity,” says Bector.
She further adds that they would be working with the tenant partners to design specific co-branded marketing and promotional initiatives, which would be engaging the visitors on a regular basis.
Even Omaxe, Connaught Place saw many events in the last few months. These include showcasing entertainment zones, family get-together, brand awareness meets, etc. “As the date for opening of mall nears, we may do more of ATL and BTL activities before the launch date to ensure we reach out to maximum people and spread the word about the theme zone,” says a spokesperson from Omaxe.
“For September 2015, at Xperia we have planned a high-octane marketing campaign with a strong digital push, which will roll out with effect from October 2015 (60 days prior to the launch). Apart from large shopping festivals, we will also be having unique periodic events focused on enhancing the quality of social life in the catchment. Other than the standard print, online and radio outlets, we have also planned an innovative and disruptive campaign for an impactful customer outreach,” says Dharia.
Innovations and advancements
“Xperia Mall is at the banks of India’s first Greenfield smart city. We have engaged with IBM as a part of our Palava smart city project to help us implement a smart building. The project will have smart CCTVs that can not only develop as footfall counting systems but also aid our smart loyalty programme,” says Dharia. Xperia being fully Wi-Fi enabled, it will have all the functions operating – starting from customer complaints to retailer business tracking, to parking and even event management. It will have one of the first-of-its-kind rooftop go-karting innovation. The mall has a well-planned circulation with travellators, zoning and other efficient facilities both for customers and retailers.
“Intelligent zoning of the Omaxe CP Mall has been done, keeping in mind the convenience of the visitors. Lighting, circulation and smart entry and exits are proposed as per international standards,” says Goel from Omaxe.
“As the public transport is limited in the Kota city, free shuttle bus service would be provided by ACIL to the shoppers, especially the students’ community, to provide accessibility from the main city,” says Ahluwalia.
“At Bestech Mall, we have appointed a professional agency to create a signage story for the entire mall. We also have plans to manage the entire mall with latest technology of parking, signage and sales revenue monitoring. We are trying to ensure that the end customer appreciates the service offered by our mall,” says Preeti Khera, General Manager – Retail Leasing, Bestech Mall.
Ahluwalia opines: “Investments in developing a mall are huge and the returns are not immediate. The owner or developer needs to have patience for the returns and has to be always on their toes to bring the footfall, which can only be achieved if they understand the pulse of the people in the city.”
Reiterating the same thoughts, Dungarwal says: “My honest suggestion to all new mall developers is: Please do not make a mall before you understand the business and the risk involved in it. I have met many developers who have made malls because of ego or competition. Howevere, they are now spending sleepless nights. Mall development is a serious and very profitable business worldwide.”
The e-commerce business in India is expected to grow significantly and with most products ranging from furniture to groceries to apparel to precious jewellery now available online, physical malls and stores are bound to face stiff competition going forward. “The mall operators will have to continue working hard towards building strategies that make malls attractive and force people to physically visit the mall rather than shop online at their convenience,” says Kumar.
But, most importantly, malls in India should be declared as tourist destinations and should be given a single-window clearance for all approvals and permissions. “There are clear examples worldwide, where malls attract more tourists than anything else. Since malls have the potential to earn high on foreign exchange, a special status should be awarded to them,” suggests Dungarwal.

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