6 tips on running a mall in India, Select Citywalk style

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Select Citywalk is one of India’s premier and most most admired shopping centres. Spread over a sprawling area of 1.3 million sq ft, Select Citywalk is a part of an overall complex of 54 acres that comprises of three floors of office space; India’s first six screen – two Gold Class and four Premier Class PVR Cinemas, and approximately 1 lakh sq ft of serviced apartments.
The mall has been bestowed with ‘Country’s Most Admired Shopping Centre’ award by several independent organizations.
In an exclusive conversation with Indiaretailing Bureau, Executive Director, Select Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd, Yogeshwar Sharma, shares his views on the current shopping centre scenario.
You’ve been in the mall business for so long. How would you describe it today?
Over the years, the mall business has grown extremely fast, but it is really just the beginning. The current retail scenario in India is evolving, and soon it will be comparable to any other international destination.
With only a few malls slated to come up, do you see the mall industry going through an arduous phase? What does this dearth of quality retail space mean for the industry?
The number of malls coming up may be less, but many people are planning new malls. It may take some time, but we would see more shopping centres coming up in the next five to ten years. Yes, it is true at the moment that there is a shortfall of quality retail spaces and we can’t deny the fact. Finding a suitable retail space is a challenge for the retailers. However, things are improving gradually, and we would see more malls in future, for sure.
How would you allocate space to apparel, food, entertainment and so on, in your mall?
We form space location strategies keeping consumers in mind. We do a thorough analysis on what categories are required by the consumers and in what proportion, as each category has it’s limitation. At Select Citywalk we have allocated around 60 per cent space for categories like apparel, footwear, and so on, 15 per cent space is allocated for food and remaining chunk goes to cinema.
Given the steadily increasing number of shoppers in the online space, which were the top performing categories at your mall? What advantage do you offer compared to the online offer?
Sooner or later, online discounting will dry up. A good strategy can spearhead the mall business drastically. Quality retail space, architecture and balanced brand mix, are few key ingredients for a successful mall. Having said that, I would like to mention that physical infrastructure is not enough, running a successful mall is an art.
Despite growing online dominance, beauty and fast fashion are still very strong categories in brick and mortar retailing. There are many reasons for the survival of offline retail. There is no substitute to human touch and feel. Moreover, there is a serious dearth of urban outdoor spaces and malls fill that gap. Malls are emerging as social hangout entities and offer unmatched experience, which cannot be created in online channels. In fact, many malls including Select Citywalk are giving good competition to online players.
Highlight your growth plans.
We are working on our expansion plan. As of now, we are planning to expand in only metro cities.
What kind of innovations do you expect to see in the retail segment?
Every brand must reinvent itself from time and again. For example, fashion brand ZARA has continued to evolve themselves despite the competition. Their apparel design has really set them apart. Another fashion retailer Tommy Hilfiger too has done great innovations in visual merchandising. Brands should also focus on technology and do analysis of consumer behaviour. They should work a little more to reach out to the consumers.

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