E-commerce may be growing and clicks might be becoming more convenient for shoppers than bricks, but shopping malls are still a prominent business. Malls give consumers shopping, entertainment and food all at the same place – a family entertainment centre that e-commerce cannot replace anytime in the near future.
President for the West Region at The Phoenix Mills Ltd., Rajendra Kalkar, is a firm believer in the tactile experiences offered by physical stores. Kalkar, who is responsible for operations, leasing, retailer mix, legal, customer relationship and marketing, including the top-line and bottom-line and the commercial success of High Street Phoenix and Phoenix Market City in Mumbai and Phoenix Market City, Pune, is all gung ho over the latest expansion plans of Phoenix.
In an interview with Indiaretailing Bureau, he talks about the future of shopping malls in India, and big plans for malls under the Phoenix umbrella. Excerpts from the interview:
How many brands do you have currently in all of the malls that come under Phoenix umbrella?
Lower Parel – 260 brands
Kurla – 300 plus brands
Pune – 320 plus brands
Bengaluru – 300 plus brands
Chennai – 400 plus brands
Lucknow – 125 brands
Bariely – 100 plus brands
Any plans to introduce any new brands to Indian markets through your malls?
Phoneix has been a pioneer of brand introduction in India. A lot of international brands have forayed into India by opening their first store at Phoenix and we will ensure that this trend continues. Recent launches include Selected Homme, which has just opened at Lower Parel and Kurla simultaneously.
What are you doing to revamp your current malls? How will position them internationally?
We look forward to positioning all our malls as national players, making them the most famous, the go-to-place in their city. All of our malls have reached the stage where they can become national properties and we are seriously looking at boosting them so they gain this national recognition. We are starting with our malls in Lower Parel and Pune.
We are looking to engage in lot of international CSR activities at these malls, extraordinary initiatives on art and museums and culture, introduce international brands, and organise consumption driven activities for the consumer.
Are retail and entertainment beyond separation? What do you think?
Retail and entertainment are completely intertwined, beyond separation. Entertainment pulls consumers to the mall as much as shopping. In fact, I would go as far as to say that entertainment has become even more essential to a mall than stores. It’s the real crowd-puller.
Give us a glimpse of your expansion plans.
We currently occupy roughly 600 million sq.ft. of retail space with all our malls put together, and we are planning to double this number in the next three years. We are exploring options in Delhi, Chandigarh, Vizag, Hyderabad, Cochin. We are contemplating searching for space in major cities like Bengaluru, Chennai, Indore, Ahmedabad, and Kolkata as well.
What, according to you, is the future of malls in India?
I strongly feel that brick-and-mortar as a medium of shopping is never going to die, it is going to flourish, and hence malls will never go out of style.